Charles Charbonneau

Jo McGarry
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Friday - June 08, 2011 Share | | podcast Podcast |

Jo McGarry photo

Occupation: Executive Chef, Hilton Waikoloa Village

Where were you born and raised? Biloxi, Miss. My dad was in the military, so we moved around quite a bit and settled in the Midwest, where I’d say I got my work ethic and values.

What started your interest in the culinary arts? My parents definitely influenced me. My father was a good cook, and my mother was an inspired Japanese cook. My first memory is of standing on a little wooden stool by the stove, watching her. I’ve been cooking since I was at least 5. I made Eggs Benedict before I was 7.

Which is more challenging: the responsibility of a hotel with many food outlets or running a restaurant as chef/owner? Of course a big resort is a challenge, but this really comes as second nature to me. I’ve always enjoyed handling lots of different things and evolving from one into the next. The funny thing is that running your own restaurant is not as creative. You go into it thinking you can change the menu, have freedom ... but customers don’t want that! Somewhere like Hilton you can count on change - and there’s always opportunity to be creative.

Do you cook at home? Yes, when I have time.

What’s always in your fridge? Pickles. I make my own. Right now there’s daikon pickles - and mustards. I always have lots of different mustards.

Favorite kitchen tool? My chef knife is part of my right hand.

With whom would you most like to have dinner at Hilton Waikoloa? Thomas Jefferson. I find his vision was incredible, and I think he was the most influential president we ever had.

Anything about you that might surprise people? Well, I’ve done many different things - from living and working in Russia to being President Clinton’s personal chef one summer on Martha’s Vineyard.


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