From dishwasher to chef, Luis Rodriquez fell in love with cooking as a child
Published in the July 5 – July 18, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life
By Clairey Yang
Luis Rodriquez always aims to bring diners at Rosy’s at the Beach a fun experience with his kitchen concoctions. As he drives from his San Jose home to the popular downtown restaurant, he ponders how to mix and match a multi-cultural variety of ingredients, giving his Morgan Hill patrons a culinary adventure.
“I infuse French food with Asian food, Mexican food, Spanish food,” he said. “That is what I do every single day.”
Rodriquez has been interested in cooking since he was a child and helped his mom in the kitchen. At 17, he started working as a dishwasher at a breakfast restaurant and became fascinated watching the cook whip up omelets and other breakfast items.
“I watched the way they flipped eggs, the way they did things,” he said. “I used to wash dishes as fast as I could so I could just stare at ’em and see what they did.”
One day the cook asked if he wanted to learn. Little by little he started flipping eggs. Next thing he knew he had fallen in love with the food industry and saw a career in his future.
“I never really intended to be a chef but it just came out that way,”he said.
His passion for cooking led him to work with some professional chefs in the Bay Area. Among his greatest inspirations are Maurizio Mazzon, the executive chef at San Jose’s Il Fornaio, and Mark Tabak, a prominent San Jose chef. Mazzon made a dinner for Pope John Paul II and Tabak prepared a meal for President Bill Clinton in Los Gatos.
“When I started working for Mazzon, that’s when I was like ‘Wow!’” he said. Mazzon inspired him to learn a classical Italian style of cooking.
“All my knowledge I gained by reading and doing stuff, but most of it is by working with amazing chefs,” he said.
Rodriquez has cooked for his share of famous patrons including John Travolta and Dustin Hoffman when they were filming the movie “Mad City” in downtown San Jose. He also prepared a meal for 49er Joe Montana when the football great announced his retirement. When he shares his celebrity stories with the staff at Rosy’s, he hopes they will be inspired.
The creator of San Jose’s legendary 71 Saint Peter, a European grill, Rodriquez replaced Rosy’s chef Rich Bergin in September 2015. He met Rich and Rosy Bergin about 20 years ago when the couple ran a downtown San Jose restaurant called the Shark and Rose. When the couple came to Morgan Hill in 1998 to start the seafood restaurant, Rodriquez helped them build the kitchen and develop the menu.
“I liked to do more French and Italian food, that’s what I’m known for, that’s what I’ve been doing for over 20 years” he said. “This environment is a little different as you can tell. It’s seafood based.”
Rodriquez considers cooking its own art form where he puts together ingredients to create a dining experience.
“To me art is in the kitchen,” he said. “You give me a tomato and I can see what I can do with it.”
One of his favorite dishes is seafood paella, which his patrons love.
“I take pride in doing it because we do it the old style they do in Spain by using a cast iron pan. It is a traditional Spanish dish and we use saffron, the most expensive spice in the world. It’s a lot of work, but, yeah, that is one of my favorite dishes.”
Clairey Yang is a sophomore at Monte Vista Christian School in Watsonville. She enjoys cooking, eating, swimming and writing.