Chef G. Garvin is an acclaimed and celebrated cookbook author, television host, James Beard nominee, and philanthropist. Chef Garvin is an Atlanta native who got his start at The Old Vinings Inn Restaurant at theage of 13 and three years later advanced his career at the Ritz Carlton-Downtown as the youngest line cook in the gourmet dining room. His excellence and achievements in the kitchen opened the opportunity for him to work under Chef Jean Pierre Dubray at Ritz Carlton-Rancho Mirage in Palm Springs, California. Chef Garvin went on to become the Executive Chef of Morton’s Restaurant at the Four Seasons and Kass Bah.
Chef Garvin has continued to leave his mark in the culinary space by hosting his first cooking show, Turn Up the Heat with G. Garvin, which originally aired on TV One and ran for seven seasons then later a second show on the same network entitled G. Garvin: The Road Tour. On the heels of his previous success, Food Networks’ Cooking Channel contracted Chef G. Garvin to host a new show titled Road Trip with G Garvin.
Aside from his success in the kitchen Chef G. Garvin is a restaurateur and owner of LowCountry Restaurant in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and LowCountry Steak in Midtown Atlanta. He is a Culinary and Hospitality Consulting Specialist with his company Garvin Food Group and is Chief Culinary Advisor for SodexoMagic.
Gearing up for his highly anticipated show, G. Garvin Live on AspireTV, Chef G. Garvin talked with For(bes) The Culture about his career, new show and breaking down the diversity barriers in the culinary industry.
Forbes The Culture: How did you get started in the culinary arts?
Chef G. Garvin: It was something that I started as a child cooking at home with my sister. When I turned 13 I started working in restaurants part time for the summer. It developed into this passion that continues to live on.
Forbes the Culture: You have been a cook and chef at some of the finest restaurants in the country such as Ritz Carlton-Downtown in Atlanta, Ritz Carlton-Rancho in Palm Springs and the Four Seasons. Over your career have you faced injustices or adversity as a Black man in the culinary industry?
Chef G. Garvin: Yes, constantly. When I started in this business, there weren’t young Black men working in the kitchens that I worked in. There are very few Black people who are in this space, certainly not enough. It is one of those things that can either handicap you or be a driving force. Nothing has really changed today, there is not enough diversity reflected. For every five or six whites there is one African American talent. I think it’s reflected throughout the entire industry.
For(bes) The Culture: Not only are you an accomplished chef you are an author of several cookbooks. What is the inspiration behind the recipes you chose to feature in your books?
Chef G. Garvin: I’m on my 7th book and currently my memoir is being edited. The recipes represent a time and a place in my life. When You love food and travel you see things. I take what I see and make it my own. All of the recipes in my books revolve around my philosophy of ingredient integrity and reflect the passion I have for food.
For(bes) The Culture: You serve as the Chief Culinary Advisor for SodexoMAGIC. What about the partnership between Sodexo and Magic Johnson made you want to be a part of that opportunity?
Chef G. Garvin: I am in a different place in my career. I do what I want to do. I’m in this space where my passion is different and driven by what’s important to me. Magic Johnson is one of the few men who I would consider a mentor and who I’m inspired by. Being a food gut it was important to me to provide a service to HBCUs. I wanted to make sure that we could provide them with a quality product. It’s real work, and that’s what I want to do. SodexoMAGIC is an incredible force and it is something that I’m more proud of than people know. It’s more than just being a “celebrity chef” on tv-it’s real work.
For(bes) The Culture: Not only are you a restaurateur but you have another company, Garvin Food Group. What are you as an entrepreneur doing to help other Black owned culinary businesses?
Chef G. Garvin: My company Garvin food group is a consulting company that has been in business for 15 years. First we are a consultant company. We can help restaurateurs with challenges regarding floor plans, interior and exterior design work. At my steak house LowCountry Steak in Midtown Atlanta. I allow Black owned restaurants to use my 4800 sq ft restaurant as a platform to gain exposure for their products. I’ve done collaborations with Local Green and Vegetopia. I’m very open to helping Black businesses navigate this space.
For(bes) The Culture: What advice would you give young Black professionals looking to break into the culinary industry?
Chef G. Garvin: Read my book, A Message To My Children, it’s a non cookbook that helps give you the rules of life. The second thing I would say is this is an industry that is white male dominated and not very friendly to African Americans. Now with all of these various tv shows being shopped, people feel that’s the goal- to be on television. I would say to understand the craft, understand what it means to be a good cook first and foremost, be a great sous chef and executive chef. Also, go and work in great hotels and great country clubs. Really understand the science of food, understanding the rules and regulations as well as understanding what it means to have ingredient integrity which I live by. Overall, learn to understand the business and surround yourself with people that are smarter than you.
For(bes) The Culture: Your new show Chef G. Garvin Live premiers October 17th on Aspire TV. Can you tell us about the new series and how this show differs from the cooking shows you have done in the past?
Chef G. Garvin: It’s raw. It’s not over produced. It’s called G. Garvin Live and although I will be on the stage I’m in the kitchen making mistakes, spilling things and dropping stuff as it would be if you were cooking at home. The show is not perfect by design. It’s fun, funny and it will be real which is exactly what I want it to be. For me, I’m driving my own ship. I love the Aspire team and they know I’m good at what I do so they let me make a tv show. Coming out of this horrific pandemic, nobody needs to be talked at. They just need to be enjoying themselves. We are just having fun!
You can watch the premier of G. Garvin Live on October 17th 8pm EST on Aspire TV
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