The Common Flame: Eduardo Garcia, the Bionic Chef

Cover Photo by Justin Tyler Close

Food cooked over an open flame is a gateway to good moments and lasting memories. It brings us together not just for sharing a meal, but for sharing times of laughter, stories, and tradition.

In the Common Flame, we continue to discover cultures across the world united by a common love of cooking over an open flame. In this edition, we look to a North American experience with open fire cooking a la  Eduardo Garcia.

“A meal is not just what we eat, but a rich story of who we are!” — Eduardo Garcia

Photo by Justin Tyler Close

Meet Eduardo

Eduardo goes by a few different names, the “Emperor of Flavor” and “The Bionic Chef” are just a couple. He’s a world-renowned chef, public speaker, co-founder of the Montana Mex food brand, outdoors enthusiast, and athlete. But most importantly, Eduardo is grateful for the opportunities he has had to travel the world sampling food from all sorts of cultures, most of which of which had been cooked over an open flame. “At the heart of these tasty bites,” he says “I have found my connection with this world. It lies within the people, the places and the stories. This is what I find calling me back time after time.”

Eduardo started cooking when he was fifteen, mostly at burger and pizza joints in Seattle, WA. Fast forward to his time after honing his cooking skills at culinary school, Eduardo at 38 years-old was an up-and-coming yacht chef. 

While hiking one day, Eduardo suffered an accident that led to his doctors having to amputate his left hand. Eduardo’s resilience, coupled with the support of his family, drove him to get back in the kitchen to relearn all of his cooking skills in a new way. Cooking became part of his recovery, but it took him time to get comfortable being able to enjoy the outdoors again.

Cooking for “Whatever Happens”

Eduardo looked back on his time as a private chef who traveled the world and realized how important sharing moments with others outdoors and cooking around a fire could be to his recovery.

“. . .I had a lightbulb moment; a meal is more than just what we eat, but an integral part of what builds culture and brings people together.”

After the accident, Eduardo was driven to connect his love of the outdoors and his love for food. He became obsessed with learning about where the food he ate came from, where and how it was grown. “Why would [I] not invest energy into knowing exactly where our nutrition and our source of life come from?”, says Eduardo. But even more important, Eduardo’s new passion for cooking comes from the wild adventures he’s experienced in the outdoors where it’s nothing but fire, good food, and friends.

“When you’re out in the wild, you’re not out to make the perfect steak, you’re out for whatever happens.” — Eduardo Garcia

Photo by Beau Gaughran

When you’re ready for “whatever happens” in your own outdoor adventures, try these open-fire recipes inspired by Eduardo Garcia.

Cottontail Cacciatore

Photo and Recipe by Montana Mex

For a full write up on this recipe, click here.

Whitefish Empanadas

Photo and Recipe by Montana Mex

Fireside Banana Boat

Photo and Recipe by Montana Mex

Herb Grilled Chicken Legs & Thighs

For a full write up on the recipe, click here.

Cast-Iron Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Photo and Recipe by Montana Mex