Chef Karina Garcia turned her passion for cooking into a thriving business with her husband, Lalo. It all began with a chance encounter in NYC when Lalo invited Karina to his abuela’s house in Puebla, Mexico. Little did she know that it would change their lives forever.
Karina and Lalo’s venture, Cocina Consuelo, started small, catering to friends and family. However, with their delicious and authentic take on Mexican home cooking, it quickly grew and became a hit with the Harlem community. Karina now proudly holds the title of mother, entrepreneur, and advocate. Read below to explore her journey towards participating in Heritage Fire New York City on May 21st.
What is your inspiration for cooking?
KG: My inspiration for cooking comes from abuelas in both my family and my husband’s family. Cocineras make magic in the kitchen using traditional techniques that go beyond the kitchen and transport you through the food.
When did you first cook with fire and why?
KG: The very first time I cooked outdoors was back in my homeland of the Dominican Republic, growing up very humble we sometimes had to resource firewood to finish or cook our meals. I vividly remember being five or six years old, walking to the backyard and climbing a coconut tree to gather the dry husk, as this makes for a quick fire, and making white rice over mango and coconut sticks, or any other fruit sticks that were dry.
What excites you about participating in Heritage Fire?
KG: What excites me about this competition is sharing a space with other cooks like myself that have a similar love and appreciation for fire.
What does cooking with heritage breed protein mean to you?
KG: Cooking with heritage breeds means cooking with the best meat available.
What was your favorite dish growing up?
KG: My favorite dish growing up is pastel de platoon madero, which essentially is a lasagna, instead of pasta sheets sub sweet plantains either mashed or fried! Scrumptious!
What farms do you typically source from in your city? And why?
KG: I like them because they are local farms with good ethics:
- Hudson Valley Duck Farm
- Pura Vida Fishery
- Fellow Farmer
- Milport Dairy Farms
What is your favorite protein to cook?
KG: Duck! Because of how much fat it has.
What’s the most popular dish at your restaurant, and what makes it so special?
KG: Jalapeños stuffed with tuna. This dish is a staple at my husband’s family table during the holidays and it’s been part of the family for over 200 years!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in the culinary industry?
KG: Be sure this is what you want.
Did you always want to become a chef? Who or what inspired you?
KG: My earliest memories are of me wanting to be a chef. I don’t know when it first surfaced but I always had an inclination for cooking.
How do you prepare for an event like Heritage Fire?
KG: The way I prepare for an event like this one is by writing down lots of ideas that I may or may not use, everything that comes to mind gets written down. And at the end hopefully, my vision comes alive.
Must-have ingredient when cooking?
What else should we know about you?
KG: I started work 6 days after my home birth.
I worked at Eleven Madison Park before the pandemic hit.
I am an advocate for family paid leave, I was recently invited to Vice President Harris’s home to give a speech about my experience as an entrepreneur with no paid leave. I will also be traveling to Congress next week to propose a bill for family paid leave.
Meet Chef Karina Garcia and 20+ other talented chefs competing for the title of Heritage Hero at Heritage Fire New York City on May 21st. Grab your all-inclusive tickets today and enjoy dishes like Garcia’s pork ribs pibil.