Food & Drink
Future Star Chefs Show-off at Texas Cooks' Co-Op
Published: September 18, 2013
Not so for Martinez and Colon’s Cooks Coalition. After rebranding as the Texas Cooks’ Co-Op, Martinez and Colon reassessed its original purpose. This wasn’t going to be an organization that tore people down. They focused instead on building high-quality cuisine up.
“We decided to get serious about our mission,” Martinez said. “We want to further the culinary scene here in regards to showing people that you don’t have to spend a lot of money for forward-thinking food. We make no money. Every dollar goes back to product or wine.”
Co-Op dinners have taken place all over the city. Over the last year and a half, the group has held 15 culinary feasts at locations such as the Art Institute of San Antonio, commercial kitchen Bake Broil and Brew, Tre Trattoria’s downtown location, Knife & Fork Gastropub in Stone Oak, numerous hotel and resort dining rooms, and most recently, Arcade Midtown Kitchen. The group’s Facebook location puts it best: “Anywhere we are allowed to showcase our different skills and techniques!”
Each theme is wildly different: Masquerade, Secret Ingredients, Nose-to-Tail, Six Flags Over Texas and a Classics Dinner are just a few of the iterations.
The group meets every Wednesday, usually around 11 p.m. at an industry favorite bar like The Brooklynite or Southtown 101. During these meetings, the members casually discuss upcoming dinners while hashing out locations, settling on dinner themes and assigning plates.
At first glance, they might seem like a disparate bunch. Most everyone is in their mid-20s or early 30s, but it’d be hard to peg down their occupations once they don civilian gear. An early meeting in September brought together the sharp-tongued Amanda Linquist, executive sous chef at Westin River Walk; crisp, clean Army Staff Sergeant Edmund Perez; soft-spoken Jacqueline Montalvo, who now works under Linquist at the Westin; Colon in a pair of stylish glasses and camo cargo shorts; and a scruffy Nick Fuentes joined the meeting while manning Tapa Tapa Truck (Martinez was completing a two-week stage, basically a fancy French word for unpaid internship, at NYC’s Empellon Cocina). The meeting was rounded out by Sustenio bartender David Naylor, who previously trained under Olaf Harmel at Mon Ami back when Harmel ran the bar there.
The membership has fluctuated since the Co-Op’s first dinner at Tost Bistro: Bella on the River’s Sean Fletcher and James Diaz, along with line cook Daniel Orta, previously with Sandbar and now at Arcade, participate when time allows. Spare hours are a precious resource for these industry folks.