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PRESIDIO EATS: Chef Rogelio Garcia Discusses Holiday Traditions, Top Chef, and Working in a National Park

Thursday, Dec 14, 2017 Category Food and Drink

Chef Rogelio Garcia had an unconventional path to becoming a chef. As a teenager he began in the industry washing dishes at a restaurant in the Napa Valley and skipped culinary school to learn from some of the most famous chefs in the country. Last year, he became Executive Chef at The Commissary restaurant in the Presidio, and starting this month, he’s featured on Bravo’s 15th Season of Top Chef. We talked with Chef Rogelio about his favorite holiday traditions, his experiences on Top Chef, and working in a national park.

What’s your favorite holiday tradition with your family?

My mother is a great cook and when I was growing up, she made delicious chile rellenos. Whenever there’s a holiday or a special occasion, this is what I request.

For my family, I tend to cook with my two sons. Around Thanksgiving and Christmas, we make a bacon-wrapped turkey. I find one of the typical complaints about turkey is that it can get dry. I had an experience early on as a chef where we made bacon-wrapped Cornish game hens, and I just carried this technique over to my holiday turkey. My sons often get in the kitchen and help with the cooking, making it a fun family experience for all of us.

Can you give us some behind-the-scenes intel on Top Chef?

Ha! I’ve signed a bunch of forms with Bravo where I say I won’t share anything before the episodes air…but I can say it was a really fun experience. One thing they require, is that you come in empty-handed – I didn’t have any recipes or tools, or help in any way, and I didn’t know anyone who was going to be on the show. The restaurant business is pretty small, so the other competing chefs and I ended up having people we knew in common. There were actually three other chefs from the Bay Area that I’d never met before, so I appreciated getting to know them. It was a great challenge, overall. 

What’s it like running a restaurant in a national park?

It’s very different than a typical restaurant experience. We’re surrounded by greenery and everything is clean in the Presidio. We talk about it in the restaurant sometimes. We’re in the park all day and it’s quiet and peaceful – sometimes it feels like we’re not even in a city. I really like it. I live in Marin and I get to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge every day on my way to work. I see those views, and then I get to work in a beautiful, historic building in a national park. I can’t complain.

Tune in for Season 15 of Top Chef featuring Chef Rogelio >>

Check out Chef Rogelio’s recipe for slow-cooked artichokes, as featured in Vogue Magazine >>

Upcoming Food Events in the Presidio

“Make Tuesdays Better” taco experience, Happy Hour, “Arguello Experience” agave tasting – regularly at Arguello Restaurant

Social Hour at The Commissary, Monday through Friday, 5 to 7:30 pm

Open Kitchen Guest Chef Series at The Commissary, First Mondays of the month

Happy Hour, Thursday Complimentary Beer Tastings, Sunday Bottomless Beer and/or Mimosa Brunch, and Sundays Fried Chicken Dinner, Regularly at Sessions at the Presidio restaurant

New Year’s Eve at Presidio Social Club and at The Commissary

For more information about dining around the park, visit our website >>