Meet Ralph Chavez, executive chef at La Posada, a retirement resort in Green Valley.
The San Manuel native graduated from Cholla High School in Tucson and worked his way up in the world of printing with AlphaGraphics. After opening an AlphaGraphics in Tacoma, Wash., Chavez decided to change careers and enroll in North Seattle Community College’s Culinary Arts Program.
After graduating from the program, he spent five years working as a chef at Marriott hotels in Seattle, then went on to a sous chef position at another in Scottsdale. After two years, Chavez accepted the position at La Posada, which he has held for seven years.
The 42-year-old Chavez oversees 50 employees and five different dining venues at La Posada that serve an average of 1,100 meals a day.
Question: What’s your favorite restaurant in Tucson?
Answer: I’d have to say Acacia. Albert (Hall) and his team really do a great job there.
What’s your favorite dish to prepare and why?
Cochinita Pibil. At one of the classes I had in Seattle, we had Silvio Campos, who was the chef for the governor of Yucatan, show us the traditional way to prepare it.
What’s your favorite dish to eat?
Lately, it’s been Sonoran hot dogs or a Pat’s chili dog.
What’s unique about the Tucson restaurant scene compared to other cities?
I really like Tucson because everybody is like an extended family. We all sort of look out for each other and share ideas. It’s not like those places where everybody is just looking out for themselves.
What’s your favorite or most-used gadget or kitchen utensil?
My chef’s knife and my kitchen tongs. They’re extensions of my hand.
What do you always have in your refrigerator?
Chicken, yogurt, olives and a bottle of champagne.
Why are you a chef?
It’s the influences of my mother and grandfather on me. My mother was a great cook, and the presentation of food she did always made me want to eat. My grandfather taught me how to grow my own vegetables and fruit. He was doing that 35 years ago, before the whole local, organic food thing was cool, so that was a pretty nice influence, too.