Luis Rodriguez comes from 71 Saint Peter, a legendary San Jose restaurant
Published in the Sept. 2-15, 2015 issue of Morgan Hill Life
By Marty Cheek
Patrons of Rosy’s at the Beach Restaurant will see an evolution of the lunch and dinner menu now that new chef Luis Rodriquez is in the kitchen. The creator of San Jose’s legendary 71 Saint Peter, a European grill restaurant, replaces Rosy’s popular chef Rich Bergin who retired last month.
“We are going to do some menu changes but it’ll be gradual,” Rodriquez said of his plans for the downtown eatery. “This restaurant has been successful for the past 18 years and we don’t want to change everything. We’ll keep the classic dishes like fish and chips and of course Taco Tuesdays. But we’ll also get a little bit more out there. We’ll do fresher dishes that take advantage of the valley. We’ll be going to the Farmers Market and look for local growers who grow all kinds of things.”
Rodriquez met Rich and Rosy Bergin about 20 years ago when the couple ran a downtown San Jose restaurant called the Shark and Rose next door to 71 Saint Peter in the San Pedro Street district. When the couple came to Morgan Hill to start a seafood restaurant called Rosy’s at the Beach, Rodriquez helped them build the kitchen and develop the menu selections.
Rodriquez sold 71 Saint Peter to his sister in April and found he was not yet ready to retire. So when he heard Rosy’s was looking for a new chef, he saw an opportunity to get back into the kitchen. His debut came at Rosy’s popular monthly Wine Pairing Dinner on Aug. 12 – and the diners raved about the items he sent them from the kitchen. The chef even stepped out into the dining area for a minute to introduce himself to a round of applause.
Changes by Rodriquez at the beginning of the transition period will include exciting appetizers and new lunch salads that take advantage of the bounty in the South Valley such as heirloom tomatoes and just-picked asparagus. Another new addition the chef plans is the possibility of serving brunches with dishes using as many organic and farm fresh ingredients as he can bring into them. He also wants to encourage families and businesses to consider contacting him to prepare a special celebration lunch or dinner at Rosy’s.
“I want people to call me and tell me ‘I have a party of 20. My son is graduating from school. So let’s get together. You pick my brain and I pick yours and together we’ll put something nice together for the family.’ That’s the kind of thing that Rosy, Rich and I have talked about doing for the future.”
Rodriquez will also be adventurous in the daily specials, experimenting with cuisine or introducing patrons to European-style dishes such as coq au vin, a French dish of chicken braised with wine and mushrooms served over creamy mashed potatoes that was a hit at Rosy’s recently.
Although he admits he does not have “classical training” in the culinary arts, Rodriquez said his passion for cooking more than makes up for that. He reads a lot of cookbooks to develop new dishes. And his experience working side-by-side in professional kitchens with several “amazing chefs” has enhanced his cooking skills at 71 Saint Peter so that it became a Michelin Guide “recommended” restaurant.
“The menus we’re going to be doing at Rosy’s will be creative,” he said. “I do believe that every single menu item has to have no more than four to five items at the most. Like filet mignon — a little bit of vegetables, a little bit of mashed potatoes, filet mignon sauce — and we send it out. I do believe my food has to be straightforward. That’s the style of cuisine that I’ve been doing for 20-some years. I don’t like to give you something where you go, ‘Hmm, I wonder what that is,’ as some chefs do. You’re not going to see that at Rosy’s.”
Restaurant owner Rosy Bergin believes that Rodriquez’s fun attitude about food and his willingness to experiment with cuisine will open the doors to new experiences for many Rosy’s at the Beach regulars as well as attract new patrons interested in seeing what the restaurant comes up with on its menu.
“He has just a vast experience,” she said. “He wants to be careful not to rock the boat so he’s looking at our menu and seeing how it can be improved and we can introduce some new things…. I think he’s going to mix it up and bring different ingredients to the table. What we bring is that we’ve always had a great quality of product — seafood and steaks and all are high quality. Luis’s own expertise is going to bring some interesting dishes, and I think our customers are ready for that.”