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Appetite for Life

A conversation with Chef Eduardo Garcia.

TRANSCRIPT // BY EDUARDO GARCIA

Editor’s Note: Eduardo Garcia is the founder of Montana Mex. In this episode, Cornelius McGrath travels to The Big Sky and interviews him in his “dojo” —  a beautiful studio kitchen with sweeping 360-degree views of Bozeman, MT.

We discuss all things family, business, finance, and food. Eduardo shares how he thinks about making the most of our short time on this Earth, refelcting on surviving a life-threatening electrical accident which saw him spend 48 days in the ICU, undergo 21 surgeries, lose his left hand and get diagnosed with stage 2 testicular cancer. All documented in a critically acclaimed film called Charged.

This interview’s been edited for length and clarity. Listen to the full version here.

Field Notes

Montana Mex | Clean Condiments
Charged | The Film
Hungry Life | YETI Presents
Active Ingredient | Amazon Prime
Principles | Ray Dalio
Trailer: Appetite for Life | Everyday
Film: Appetite for Life | Everyday

Introduction


Eduardo Garcia: Through my recent experience, whether it was my dad’s death, whether it was an injury that cost me my hand, among other things. I don’t know, man; I have a lot of faith. I have a lot of belief that what I’m doing is good work and that keeps me uplifted, yeah.

Building a Business in Montana


Cornelius McGrath:
So we’re sat here in your beautiful kitchen, we’ve spent the last 24 hours together here in Bozeman.
I’d love to talk about what it’s been like building Montana Max here. I’m sure you could have built it in a ton of places. Obviously, this is Montana; this is your home. It’s not the place you read about every day in front of TechCrunch or the FT or the Wall Street Journal. Could you give the audience some background on what it means to build a business in Bozeman?

Eduardo Garcia: Yes, it’s probably the worst possible place in the world to manufacture and distribute from. Guaranteed. It’s landlocked. It’s the upper northern latitude of the United States. It’s got one east-west interstate corridor. It’s weather prohibitive so many months out of the year, 5 or 6 months out of the year. And honestly, Montana Max may move. Right now, our company is set up so that our managing team is situated in L.A, Dallas and New Orleans. That’s just where people work. But that’s also where our distribution centres are, where warehouses are and where manufacturing happens.

Eduardo Garcia: So, why Montana? Why did it start here? Because that’s where we lived, right? I think it’s been an enormous challenge. And financially, flying to every meeting because that’s where the business is has been super financially draining as well. I think a large part about it is just, this is home.  There’s a part of Montana Mex that is a food-driven brand that is standalone and needs to be standalone if we’ve talked about. But there’s also a part of it where your, the brand represents a way of life. And I believe that I was to circle up with all my co-founders, four of us, and say, what is Montana Max? It is a clean-label company that represents a more organic way of living or a way to eat that is free of preservatives, chemicals, and additives. And a better for you condiment company, right?

Eduardo Garcia: Foodservice brand, food brand, and there’s something about the lifestyle here that mimics that same message, which is a nature-based way of life, a company whereby we all love getting outside. To have walking meetings, as you mentioned today, it’s easy to do here. So there’s something about the call of nature in Montana that I think fuels the DNA that is core to the business and something that we want to speak to our consumers for marketing.

Eduardo Garcia: You could run this business from anywhere, probably, it just so happens to be organically stemmed off of the place I call home.

Eduardo’s Kitchen and Cooking Philosophy


Cornelius McGrath:
Yeah. Let’s talk about this kitchen for a second. We’ve spent a lot of time in here today. This was obviously newly built, correct? This is, from my 30,000-foot perspective, it’s morphed into being a competitive advantage for you and allowing you to do what you do from the retreat that is Bozeman. Can you talk about the vision and how you use the space, and how it keeps you true to maybe that core of the entrepreneur that you keep referencing?

Eduardo Garcia: Given that I’m a professional chef, the kitchen is my dojo; it’s my studio. It’s my office. It’s where the inspiration for so many of these recipes was born and developed. And, yeah, so it was a no-brainer. I was like, alright, we’ll pump. And I paid for it, the company didn’t pay for it, but I paid for it out of pocket to say, alright, I’m gonna develop a kitchen that gives me almost 180-degree views of the outside so I can see the river, I can see the mountains, I can see the trees, I can see the deer and the elk and the abundant wildlife that is Montana.

Eduardo Garcia: I can let Montana come in and be inspired by that. And then, of course, design it from a professional perspective with the equipment, the accoutrement, and the setup so that I could work as a chef. And, obviously, it’s not a bad place to be when you turn the cameras off and close the books, and you close the laptop, and you’re just hanging out with mates or friends or family and cooking a meal together. You could pack 30 people in here and I’ll be rolling pizza dough out and have a pizza party. And it’s a great place for that too.

Trailer: Our time in The Big Sky with Eduardo.

Eduardo’s Journey as a Chef


Cornelius McGrath:
Yeah. Let’s talk about you as a chef because, having watched Charged myself, it may be easy to forget that you’re actually a chef. We talked a lot about the film, the grind behind it, and what a raging success it was. But now you really have shifted your focus to mastering your craft and working on your game. Why has that been such a fulfilling shift, do you think?

Eduardo Garcia: I’ll gently correct something you said only because it’ll become the answer. So the mastering of the craft, that was when I was 18, 19, 20 in culinary school getting a degree. That was Everyday 6:30 AM class, let out at 4:30 PM. It was like 6:30 AM class, break, 12:30 to 4:30 second class, two classes a day. And then I’d go straight from my 4:30 PM to start at a 6 o’clock shift, and I’d work till midnight.

Eduardo Garcia: That was my day for two years, right? It was 6:30 AM to midnight every day, not including transit time, but it was 100 per cent focused on food and methodology. If I didn’t smell like garlic, I smelled like fish. If I didn’t smell like fish, I smelled like beef. If I didn’t smell like beef, I smelled like rosemary.

Eduardo Garcia: It was; food was so in my veins, truly staining my hands, that it was the most amazing time of my life in regards to being full, immersed in mastering a craft and learning, and so I ran with it. I took that and then professionally chefed as a private, I worked in restaurants for a few years.

Eduardo Garcia: And then, right after I graduated, I worked as a chef for 10 years on, in the yachting industry as a private chef. And that was even more hardcore, just food all the time. So then, in 2011, when I left the yachting industry and, with my partner, started Montana Max and decided to go after a television series focused on my way of cooking and recreating and exploring as a hunter, forager, gatherer, and outdoor recreationist.

Eduardo Garcia: That was the beginning of a very big shift for me in 2011. So it was like, it was the beginning of me shifting out of. Cooking every day, having a raging callus right here from holding a knife. It’s called a chef’s callus. From holding a knife on whatever hand that you chop with. To no longer having that callousness and being aware that I’m losing my callousness right there.

Eduardo Garcia: Because my time was now in pitching meetings and R&D and development and creative brainstorming and whiteboarding. And so the pen, the computer became the tool of trade. And, of course, I had my injury, which sidelined everything. So right now, eight years later. I’m getting back to cooking because I’m waking up; I’m 36, and a lot of people say, oh, man, you’re like super young, but I’m shifting gears a little bit and saying I’m forgetting.

Eduardo Garcia: I have forgotten how to cook compared to how I used to cook. I have forgotten what combinations of flavours go well together. What method-driven practices yield what results in the kitchen through technique? I’ve watched an industry continue, and it’s not going to stop for me. So what I’m doing now is I feel like I’m really investing time, energy, and intention to hone that edge again, to get that callus back a little bit to double down on the investment of so much of my life prior.

Eduardo Garcia: But I’m also tweaking my focus. It’s not so that I can be a restaurant chef and have a restaurant, in five different corners of the world, have a celebrity chef restaurant in LA, Hong Kong, Paris, wherever else. My focus is because I feel like when it comes to food, there’s a real missing key that I’ve never truly been taught, nor have I put the time into investing.

Eduardo Garcia: And that’s, I can make you a mean Eggs Benedict. I can make you a mean X, Y, and Z. I did that professionally for so long. But there’s a big missing link, and the link is I always had the food brought to me, or I ordered it, and it showed up harvested, right? So the 9 months, 10 months, 12 months story, maybe even longer prior to when I receive the beautiful truffle or whatever it is the apple, and I get to cook it for you or the Queen of England or anyone else.

Eduardo Garcia: The story of how that apple came about. How that truffle was born, how that fish grew from a smolt to the trout, that’s what I’m really psyched and fired up about. And with the garden here on my property, I’m investing that’s five years of working on just growing soil, just turning subdivision, cobble, dirt, dust, rock into real rich, nutritious, nutrient-rich soil to then grow an apple that one day I’ll get to pump a recipe out for someone.

Eduardo Garcia: But, I guess so for me, I’m entering a really fun part of my life, which is I’m trying to get back into cooking, but I’m getting back into cooking via growing. I want to complete that circle of how food comes to the table.

Cornelius McGrath: So you see that as separate to the actual craft of cooking eggs, kind of thing?

Eduardo Garcia: It’s both. It’s saying, yeah, I want to not forget how to poach the most perfect egg. Or create a beautiful emulsion and hold it so it doesn’t break. I could still do that right now with my eyes closed. But there’s definite practices in the kitchen that I’ve forgotten. Or that I have not worked that muscle enough.

Eduardo Garcia: But it’s all interest-based. If there’s no passion, if there’s no true fire behind it. I will fall so far off the radar of staying on track with a project that it’s not even worth doing anymore. And I realize that my passion for food has switched conversations from not being the chef that can whip up the most amazing, there you go, to, I just don’t have a passion for crushing 20-hour days, to build the restaurant and build the most amazing dishes for every one night after night.

Eduardo Garcia: I think I, but the passion is very much. I want to tell a story about how food is grown, how it’s harvested. And then tied in to the 15 years that I’ve already learned, which is then how to cook it. And that passion, this new like approach into food, is going to have me cooking more. So it’ll still sharpen that old edge, right? It’s like just adding a new tool to the tool belt.

Eduardo Garcia: I think if Jen and I looked at each other and said, Alright, so what is the 10, 20-year goal for AIG, Active Ingredient Group? To continue to do positive work that fans our fires so that we continue to just pays us well. Fulfils us in any other which way. Anyone that we’re working with, whether it’s our lawyer or a counsel or a PA like it, fuels the whole food chain up and down, and I think that’s always been the kitchen, the studio kitchen we were working in all day today.

Eduardo Garcia: Even in that hiring friends to work in their skills to do the masonry, to do the woodwork, to do the ironwork. I think it’s always been about how do you rise to the occasion and bring others with you and also be brought by others. Like, how does everyone come up together? That’s the goal. The ultimate goal for me and all of the businesses is that all ships rise.

A short film we shot on Eduardo in Bozeman.

The Challenges and Rewards of Entrepreneurship


Cornelius McGrath:
So what would you say is the company culture?

Eduardo Garcia: Our company culture? We call ourselves ankle biters.

Cornelius McGrath: What does that mean?

Eduardo Garcia: Organic ketchup. It’s like a 750 million-dollar-a-year industry. We don’t want 700; I don’t think we want nor need 750 million dollars of that industry. We don’t need the entire share of that industry. But as an ankle biter, we can take a snack at 100, at 150, 200, 5 million, whatever it is. We can take a bite out of that and know that we’re starting to have a little share in changing the tide or being a part of a movement that’s already happening with or without us, you know?

Eduardo Garcia: That’s, I think, the culture in the company is alright. How can we make effect? How can we make, how can we make impact? How can we make change with this brand? And the cool thing about it is that I’ve been talking about impact all day long. So it’s not just me, it’s anyone working with our brand is also just hungry for life. That’s where the title for that show came from. It’s not really about food. It’s about being hungry for life. It’s about the show, like the title for the original show, Active Ingredient. I feel like. We are the active ingredient in this world. Like when we are fully stimulated, when we are fully activated. And so, the culture is a group of activated individuals going after a common focus.

Cornelius McGrath: So Ray Dalio wrote a very successful book at the end of last year called Principles. And in Principles, he talks a lot about this idea of compound investment. And really, the reason why top performers are top performers is not because they just do the 20 hours on the yacht but because they engage in compound investment, which he defines as reading, writing, meditating, reflecting, and shopping at night, right?

Cornelius McGrath:You’re making a decision, making sure shit’s ready to go for the next day. And as I’m hearing you speak I see synergies to that. And I think what Ray talks a lot about is widening your aperture. So we’re showing you on some very nice cameras right now. But really, he says, as a young person, your goal should be to widen that aperture and then engage in that compound investment. So you can take a 2 percent performance to 4, to 8, to 16, to 32, to 64. Is that what you’re engaging in right now? Is that where you’re at?

Eduardo Garcia: Every experience of our lives to right now, you and I speaking in my kitchen, is an attribute, an asset that we can use that can become a compound investment on who we become. If we recognize that those experiences are crucial, vital, valuable, priceless, and not drudgery, pain in the ass, my worst day ever, ouch, right? So it’s perspective. It’s how we see. Every moment on earth, every second we have. Don’t get me wrong. I may not stay in that super Kung Fu master frame of mind all the time. But I strive to always turn life’s experience into a compound investment of who I want to be.

Eduardo Garcia: So that, when that moment in time happens, where every single ounce of me needs to rally to seize the day, to kick some ass, to impress the moment, whatever it is. Everything, the good, the bad, and the ugly, is all coming into that mojo moment. Rather than being like, aw, that was a shitty day, I’m going to put that in the shitty day category. What about you? Imagine that there’s so much lost time on your hands. It’s just this vacant void that ends up holding you back, I think.

Eduardo Garcia: So, to reference that book, yeah, I think life has the opportunity — every moment has the opportunity — to be a compound investment in who you want to become. It’s about perspective.

Eduardo’s Vision for Montana Max


Cornelius McGrath:
What’s the message that the world needs that Montana Mix gives?

Eduardo Garcia: The message is that the condiment category can actually be a clean, healthier, responsible part of how you eat. And ergo contribute to your overall happiness, your overall way of life, like it can be a contributing factor to, I hope, a life that most want to live anyway, which is to smile, to feel good, to feel valued, to eat tasty, treating tasty things and to be surrounded by high value and quality. So from the packaging to the messaging, to the actual organic products inside the glass or tin container, like the thought that’s gone into every detail of it is orchestrated and designed to make the user experience a very happy oh, that felt good, like a good experience.

Cornelius McGrath: Yeah. And why are you guys on that journey? Because I think maybe a lot of people think it was a pretty successful show. If you have this documentary. Oh, the business part must be easy, right? So where are you guys on that journey?

Eduardo Garcia: We’re just starting. Yeah, we’re just, we are just starting. If you think about it this way, it’s like we have also shifted as a company. The original concept as a company was to be a farmer’s market brand that also had a walk-in retail establishment that saw quick cash-in-hand type traffic, right?

Eduardo Garcia: And sold out the front door and. In my injury, we, as a group, retooled the business to be a national food brand with shelf-stable products versus perishable products refrigerated. So the entire business almost shifted 180, really. The morals stayed the same. The ethos stayed the same. The intent to put, really, a good-for-you product that was honest and transparent and not hiding any Anything bad for you in the label to put that in front of the consumer.

Eduardo Garcia: That’s always been our goal, but the actual way that we’re going to get to the consumer used to be guacamole and salsa. Now it’s ketchup, a barbecue sauce, an organic habanero sauce, a line of seasonings and an oil. So the whole lineup has even changed, but the message has stayed the same. So I think this year on our fourth round of angel investment and our first real sales cycle in a year with a complete team. This is our first year really going to market. So yeah, we’re just starting, truly.

Cornelius McGrath: What is the first year to go to market look like? Ground zero?

Eduardo Garcia: Yeah. It’s interesting. It’s not grand zero, right? So like it’s the natural migration of this company. I mean, we sold on Home Shopping Network for two and a half years. Home Shopping Network has a huge viewer base. So when you say ground zero, what I’m what I reply with is that this is the first year where the company, I think, knows its identity, knows what it represents, knows who its consumers are, knows the message, the market, and is truly going after it. What that looks like, it’s a lot of, it’s a lot of giveaway.

Eduardo Garcia: It’s a lot of, yeah, it’s a lot of money out the door. It’s a lot of product out the door. That’s the grocery business, and grocery is not 100 per cent of our company focus, but it is a core part of our business model is to go after the grocery world. And so right now it’s a lot of real direct strategic, get it out there, waiting for recurring sales and hopeful to experience two times growth this year, maybe plus we’ll see.

Cornelius McGrath: I say ground zero because it’s almost now that you have that identity, now you have that go-to-market strategy, now you have that full team. Now it’s almost, yeah, you’re warming up, you’re doing reps, but shit, now you’re ready to really kick it.

Eduardo Garcia: So now, so yeah, so now it’s performing. And quite honestly, it’s very exciting. It’s a very exciting but what I would call a finite year. It’s okay, we have tweaked. We’ve had enough time, enough energy to tweak the product, to tweak the message, to tweak the business, to be as strong and fit as we think it could be. Now, let’s put it in play. So now it’s in play. If it doesn’t perform and we look back and we’re able to assess That everyone on the team, that all points were covered and we did exactly what we were supposed to do every step of the way, and it just didn’t happen.

Eduardo Garcia: The product just wasn’t; the desire wasn’t there. So this wasn’t there, that wasn’t there. That’ll be a very sobering moment for Montana Mex. We’ll say, like, all right, maybe I think I’m having to be quoted as saying this, that I believe you can push. You can push a rock up a hill all day long as you want, but there probably is something to be said, for if you get to the top of the hill and your rock is round and the hole in the top of the hill is square, it won’t fit.

Eduardo Garcia: And I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing to fail. I don’t necessarily think that’s The end of the world as an investor to my the other table of 22 angel investors; I don’t want to lose anyone’s money or time here. Even the founders had ton of sweat equity, four or five, six years, sleepless nights into this.

Eduardo Garcia: No one wants to lose. But we believe we’ve developed something that is going to do well. It’s the first year where it’s really going to have its best shot at doing well. If, by all means, it does not do well, it’ll be a sobering time because then it will be a very real conversation of, okay, maybe yet again, the entire business just has to shift, or do we just put it to bed?

The Importance of Food and Legacy


Cornelius McGrath:
So what’s the fire that keeps you going? Is it that fear? Is it that, oh shit, this might not work out? Or is it something else?

Eduardo Garcia: No, I believe in it. I’m committed. Yeah. Why do you wake up in the morning? Why does anyone wake up in the morning? Because they believe that what they’re going to do, what they’re in the middle of doing, what they’re about to go do is what they want. Yeah, MontanaMex, for me personally, I won’t speak for Jen or Chris or Eohania or Indra, but I started MontanaMex; I was a co-founder and started the company with my partners because I truly believe in being an impactful messenger while I’m here on earth in regards to how we eat, what we eat, and I hope to leave a legacy behind me that is a laughter based party train of millions of individuals that are experiencing more joy in life somehow via food.

Eduardo Garcia:  Whether they’re cooking with friends, cooking with family, gardening a little bit, hunting, fishing a little bit, foraging a little bit, or just giving a little bit more credence to the 25 steaks they’re ordering. A certain value on, a certain higher value on the food we eat, that’s the impact I want to have is, I think, if you think about it, I’ve been flipping burgers, metaphorically speaking, for 21 years, since I was 15. So I’ve been blistering my fingers and working with food for others.

Eduardo Garcia: Which is a really insane thing to think about, to grab that piece of food and offer it to you. Whether it’s 500 plates of food, super-stylized, in the  most expensive restaurant in the world, or Shake Shack in an airport, and it’s $8.25. That food still represents something that will either kill you or cure you.

Eduardo Garcia: It’s either gonna power you on for your next step in life, or it’s gonna totally put you in the dirt. We can be poisoned as easy as we can be powered, right? Via food. And we don’t need to trip out on that for a long period of time. But I think, for me, at some point in my life, maybe in my mid-twenties, I recognize that, gosh, food is so blasé for so many people.

Eduardo Garcia: And yet, it’s one of our most vital things. And yes, there are Satellites of individuals, whether they’re in government and legislation, they’re in the business world, or they’re in these niche boutique person-on-person communities where there’s cooking clubs and gourmet gourmands that love to go out to eat.

Eduardo Garcia: But how many people truly like really think about the fact that food is everything? Like food, water, shelter, procreation, everything. And yet, it’s like one of those things where you just order it, and you’re like, Ah, it sucks, and you throw it out.

Cornelius McGrath: So is this your, what is your legacy then? Is your legacy joy in food? Is that what it is? How do you measure that, if it is? 

Eduardo Garcia: Measured, probably measured differently in everybody, but I would say that objectively, it’s probably measured through the community and the voices of others around you. As you hear it come back to you, you hear the same person tell you, or if you hear it from a different person, the same message a million times over, you know it’s coming from all these different angles.

Eduardo Garcia: My nose must be huge because everyone’s telling me that, or whatever it is, hey. Hey, Eduardo, your work here, your message here is inspiring, is uplifting, has caused me to wake up early, cook a meal for my kids. Best message I got in January. Hey, Eduardo, I watched your films X, Y, and Z. I woke up early, I went to the gym, I came home, I cooked a meal for my little girls before I went to work. That’s priceless stuff.

Cornelius McGrath: And is that what keeps that fire burning here in you? Shit like that?

Eduardo Garcia: So no, I think that’s a slippery slope, right? I think it would probably be a fallacy of some kind to say: yes, that’s what keeps me going is the fact that I’m leaving, building a legacy. I don’t know. I think that’s what we’re supposed to do. So I think what keeps me going is Being passionate about being the best version of myself. And I think the best version of myself is someone who is not just a dreamer, but is a dreamer, but is also a doer, and is also a designer.

Eduardo Garcia: In my 20s and my teens, I would be pushing on you like, Cornelius, you gotta go do this with me, you gotta go do this with me, like, why aren’t you doing this with me? I would think that what works for me should work for you. And so now it’s less of me trying to push my beliefs and my ideals on other people, but I believe that the real value is in just sharing who I believe myself to be and keeping a real stringent code of checks and balances.

Eduardo Garcia: Am I being an asshole? Am I being totalitarian, am I dictating, am I totally off-centre here, or is what, are my actions falling into sort of right reason, right motive, right cause? Am I staying truly in line with this person that I want to be?

Eduardo Garcia: That’s what keeps me going, I think, is Everyday waking up and saying, Alright, who am I going to be today? What am I going to design? Who, who will I become? The hundred emails come in. Am I going to respond to them? Am I not going to respond to them? Which ones am I going to say yes or no to? That’s a really powerful thing.

Cornelius McGrath: Would you say you’re getting paid to be yourself?

Eduardo Garcia: Yeah. Big time. It’s like a dream job. Yeah. It is. Yeah. Being paid by my company or being paid by either of my companies to continue doing the things that I love to do and killing two birds with one stone, fueling my own Hopeful Responsible growth as a person, as a husband to be, as maybe a dad while at the same time still allowing myself to organically develop In the way that I like, I want to become as a grey-haired wrinkled old dude. It’s a pretty dream deal.

Cornelius McGrath: So I think a lot of us young people maybe watching this are maybe whitewashed from my perspective of the narrative of gotta grow up in the valley, gotta go to a great school, gotta raise 50 million. I think they’re whitewashed about those things because, ultimately, I think we hear mostly about that and those entrepreneurial successes. You have a very different story and path into that world.

Cornelius McGrath: Do you think that makes you a different entrepreneur? Do you think that makes you somebody who clearly has great perspective on life? And, what’s your message to those that maybe feel a bit like, “ah, shit, this seems like a track. I don’t have any of those things?”

Eduardo Garcia: Yeah. I think the message would be that in any given scenario, the greatest mistake we can make is to take the face value on anything. I think rather lay out the comparables, find the common denominators, circle up the common denominators, and make that your Ten Commandments. Your approach versus my approach. Could be, and most likely will be, wildly different in regards to where you live, what you eat, what you do, how you recreate, how you structure who Cornelius is.

Eduardo Garcia: Yet, there’s going to be a fundamental code of common denominators that are probably the same as mine. Find the truth in the equation. Understand your goal, truly understand your message, understand your market, understand what you’re trying to actually sell or share to others. Are you doing the work? Are you following through? Are you investing on growth? Are you growing? Keep yourself honest.

Eduardo Garcia: That code is no different than what Steve Jobs did, than what Einstein did, than what you or I will do.And yet, how one gets there, how one finds fulfilment, yeah. If you want to be a best 30 under 30 chef in a hot city in the world and you live in Bozeman, Montana, move immediately from Bozeman, Montana, right? Get to a hot city of the world, start working, start researching, and understand what those chefs are doing, right?

Eduardo Garcia: And then do that from the age of 18 all the way to 24, 25, 26. Understand how the 1,000 chefs before you did it, and if it took them four years. Then if you know that Bozeman, Montana is an up-and-coming place, put your target and be like, oh, in 2020, it’s going to have the demographic, it’s going to have the economic growth, it’s going to have all of the other factors that must be present, so that rock you’re pushing up the hill fits in the hole, right?

Eduardo Garcia: If it’s not present, you can move back and be the hottest chef there ever was, but It’ll still never work if you don’t have all the other factors, right? So yeah, you want to be the hottest chef in the world, and those are your goals? Go put yourself in a position to win. You can dream and act on your own all day long in Bozeman, but if you’re just in the wrong environment, you’ll never grow the product you want. But I think it’s the Code of Conduct that is not dissimilar between great achievers.

Balancing Opportunities and Focus


Cornelius McGrath:
Let’s talk about hot cities and opportunities. Obviously, you shared over the last 24 hours. Yeah, your inbox is full. Opportunities are coming through the door. You’ve obviously got a phenomenal brand. You’re an excellent chef. An incredible guy. There’s a lot of people knocking at your proverbial and physical door. Probably asking to be involved and to work with you.

Cornelius McGrath: How do you retain that focus? And how do you make sure you engage in the opportunities that are still rich, even when maybe the commercial side may not be as strong?

Eduardo Garcia: Yeah, well, at the moment, I let a lot of that opportunity slip, which is unfortunate. But I’ve prioritized, gosh, I have I think I already mentioned this, but I had prioritized growing a little bit less and spending more time sharpening that knife right now, which is me before I continue on the warpath of growth. And, I feel like I’ve just been; I was wearing my blade down thin, just running myself dull and ragged going after work in progress. So, right now, I do my best to be myself and to be respectful of my interests. To respond, to say thank you, to decline politely and truly only take the work that I believe helps me continue to sharpen my knife.

Eduardo Garcia: So it either geographically keeps me here local, so the work will come to me, or the work adds to what I’m doing. It’s some; the work puts me in a position to continue working on the skill sets I want to be working on, the education I want to have right now, and it doesn’t detract and take me away. Like the party here, the glitz and glam there, for right or wrong, just doesn’t have the same appeal as it would have however many years ago.

Cornelius McGrath: And for a lot of young people, what they’re focused on is engaging in the work that pays the bills. So how do you compensate there or cover that?

Eduardo Garcia: Yeah, because you have to, because you have to, right? So for me, I’m grateful that I’m still living off a certain amount of savings. So, like yachting for 10 years, working with no mortgage, no bills, and got my student loans paid off. I’m grateful to have 10 years of full-time, very little vacation, hard work, and salaried work under my belt. I’m grateful to have invested that the right way.

Eduardo Garcia: And through other contributing factors at play, I’m in a position to focus on those dreams and goals, but that’s at 36. And I’ll tell you honestly that I still financially am not where I want to be at very much. I’m very much digging into savings often, whereas for me, it needs to be the other way around where ou’re stacking savings, and you’re earning to cover your burn. Like sometimes you need to just be in an income-generating time of your life, but there’s a very high price. And there is a high value to so many other aspects of our human existence and our day-to-day life that really don’t immediately have a financial return attached to them.

Eduardo Garcia: So I think it’s very wise to recognize that. How many books are out there that say, hey, go meditate or do yoga or work on your exercise or fitness? Otherwise, you’re going to be in a piss poor position to go on. But yeah, there’s definitely crunch times when you just have to knuckle down and find the gigs. Bring the bread in.

Final Thoughts on Sacrifice


Cornelius McGrath:
And why would you say you’re happy dipping into those savings?
Is that just because you’ve accepted that, hey, this is my sharpen knife time, and this is what I’m about? In fact, I’m in the investment phase of myself now?

Eduardo Garcia: Absolutely. Just like any business, there’s times when you need to burn, and there’s times when you’re going to recoup, yeah.I think it’s important to note that in the stereotypical version of the word entrepreneur, there’s many different faces of an entrepreneur, and there’s many different types of entrepreneurs.

Eduardo Garcia: I would say that I fall under a colourful category that we all beat to the tune of our own drum, for the large part. We seem to be fairly extravagant in just how we go about living life. Whether it’s just we feel like we want to live large in so many different ways and express ourselves.

Eduardo Garcia: It’s interesting to me that like money, finance, dollar, seems so attached, like hip to hip, to the word entrepreneur. And maybe I’d love your perspective on it; maybe that’s just my, maybe that’s ignorance on my part, or maybe I’m just seeing it wrong, but I think an entrepreneur is someone who believes in something so much that they will be the most creative person in the room, working towards that goal, that aim, that end. That word sacrifice is not really existent. It’s just I believe in this, and I am excited and passionate about finding a solution to this.

Eduardo Garcia: About making this a reality. And that, I think, is the core. You tell me, is there a stereotype that an entrepreneur is someone driven by dollar signs? Or is that just maybe fabricated in my mind?

Chef Eduardo Garcia is the founder of Montana Mex.

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