Farm to Fabled Cuisine

By Rona Berg / March 11, 2013

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Ray Garcia is a guy with heart. As chef and owner of Santa Monica’s bistro-style FIG restaurant, in the Fairmont Miramar Hotel, he puts his heart (and soul) into his deliciously inventive food.

Garcia combs the farmer’s market weekly for the freshest organic ingredients. His seasonal menus include notes on what has “just arrived,” “in peak season,” and “coming soon.” He’s developed close relationships with organic farmers, and works with them on his renowned FIGFARM dinners, featured four to six times each year. “I see the world from the eyes of a very spoiled California chef,” Garcia says. “Lavender grows here like wildfire and fruit is falling off the trees.”

But the world didn’t always look that way. A native of East LA, Garcia’s access to healthy food was limited until he tasted what his UCLA roommate—son of a sushi chef—was cooking. Garcia gave up dreams of law school, enrolled in a culinary program and went to work in the restaurant business.

His success has inspired him to look beyond his acclaimed kitchen to Olympic High School in Santa Monica, where he teaches students to plant tomatoes and make their own fresh mozzarella cheese. Part of Michelle Obama’s campaign to end childhood obesity, the program is designed to connect chefs with schools, and give students exposure and access to healthy—and delicious—food.

“I could save money by ordering tomatoes from Chile and buying hormone-injected meat,” he says. “But I’m going to do it right. People are trusting us with things they are putting in their bodies. This is not like selling a pair of shoes.”

Rona Berg

Rona Berg

Editor-In-Chief at Organic Spa Magazine
Editor-in-chief of Organic Spa Media, longtime journalist and best-selling author of Beauty: The New Basics and Fast Beauty: 1000 Quick Fixes (Workman Publishing), Rona Berg is the former Editorial Director of ELLE and Deputy Style Editor for the New York Times Magazine. She has been cited as an industry expert by Huffington Post, Fox News and New York Magazine and contributed to and been quoted in dozens of publications. Berg co-chairs the Personal Care Committee of the non-profit Green Spa Network, is a Charter Advisory Board Member of the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance, and is a frequent speaker at conferences around the globe.
Rona Berg

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