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How long have you been into food?
Since I was 11 years old

How did you get into cooking?
When my mom went shopping with her welfare check on the first of every month, I would make her buy me anything with a recipe like a cake mix.

You have had some pretty challenging experiences in the past – what was the turning point in terms of choosing another path?
My only role model: my father. Inspiration as well from my uncle Manuel who got shot in the face and later decided to become a Christian. I wanted to do the same but the crack I sold on the street at 15 was my only source of income. My mom had been cut off from welfare and I felt it was the only way for me to survive on these streets. Shortly after, I got two felonies for a large amount of weed on school grounds and selling to an undercover police officer. In jail I got down on my knees and became a Christian too.

Before Jamie came to LA to film his show had you heard of him?
I didn’t know much about Jamie. I had only heard people talk about him and the shows that he had done.

What were your impressions when you met Jamie?
Jamie is one of the coolest Chefs I have ever met. He is very sincere.

Working as a Chef do you cook when you get home as well?
Yes but not as often as I should. I love to cook for a special occasion, or when a dish is on my mind. I love cooking when something just comes into season. I have a garden filled with veggies, fruits and I can't wait to cook and eat them. I guess you can say I love everything about food, from the way you care and grow it to the way you properly cook it.

Do you cook with your kids?
My two year old son Rigo Jr. loves to do whatever I do. It's very common to see him cooking with me and throwing a fit if I don't let him water the garden too. He loves to pick and eat the cherry tomatoes from the vine. I used to volunteer teaching kids cooking classes at a local recreational park.

What other types of food do you enjoy cooking aside from Mexican?
I enjoy cooking Italian. My grandpa was Italian. It just so happens he went to culinary school but never pursued it.

What is your all time favourite thing to eat?
It would have to be mariscos (seafood) like the Mexican shrimp cocktail. It’s a chilled tomato soup with shrimp, cucumbers, avocados, and pico de gallo. The tomato soup is made from the broth of the shrimp and its shells and some clamato juice. Very Delicious.

If you could invite 5 people to dinner to cook for them who would they be and why?
My mom, grandmother, son, and two brothers. They are the closest to me and – with the exception of my son – have experienced a lot of the same things I have.

About the author: Danny McCubbin is the website editor for JamieOliver.com


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