Garvin Turns Up Heat

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Gerry Garvin discussed his TV series, “Turn Up the Heat with G. Garvin,� after doing a taping in observation of Black History Month at the Cellar in Macys.

Garvin’s show airs on TV One, the lifestyle, and entertainment cable network for African American adults. The on-air chef, who generally tapes his show in California, has whipped up gastronomic delights for Hollywood types and luminaries such as Bill and Hillary Clinton and the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

“My cooking show is in its third season,â€? said the Atlanta native. “It’s informative and for me, it’s a lot of fun. I share recipes I’ve created with people who love to cook and are learning to cook.  My style of food is universal.  I can provide whatever a person’s palate requires: Italian, French, American, Southern cuisine, whatever. On the show, I try to showcase a range of menus.  I will be in the studio July 3rd until July 18th knocking out about 2 or 3 shows a day.  For example, I’ll prepare a white roast potato and crab bisque or a roasted red bell pepper and yellow bell pepper bisque with saffron. The average meal can be done in 35 to 40 minutes or less.â€?

He told how he learned to cook from his mother and grandmother from an early age. “I had very bad eyesight as a kid so I missed a lot of school. I would go to my mother’s job where I cut and peeled vegetables,â€? Garvin recalled.  “I was five then. By 18, I really had cooking down. My mother taught me the discipline of cooking. I learned ingredients, preparation, and presentation.  When I started cooking as a kid it was just a way of making extra money but then I learned to love it.  I am from a working class family and I guess you could say I grew up in the Atlanta Ghetto.

It wasn’t ‘Ghetto’ in the sense that it was improper or bad, it was simply where we were.  People think the Ghetto is where you live so that makes you poor. The Ghetto is not about where you live, but rather the things you see around the neighborhood.  It’s the walk from home to the bus stop and everything in between that makes it the Ghetto.  But there was a lot of love and discipline there.  Varied avenues present themselves such as sports, music, or a life of crime,â€? explained Garvin.  “Cooking forced me in a different direction.  I began to realize there weren’t a lot of African Americans in the culinary world at that time, so I decided I really wanted to be good at cooking.â€?

Garvin went on the road to hone his culinary skills. He traveled around the U.S.A. and went to Europe, where he worked in kitchens in Paris, London, Hamburg, Germany, and Warsaw, Poland. He read, listened, and received the core of his training with French chefs such as Pastry Chef Jacques Torres, once the executive pastry chef at Le Cirque, but presently co-owner of Jacques Torres Chocolates in Brooklyn.  “I learned how to bake cookies from Torres at the Ritz Carlton in Palm Springs,â€? he continued. “I also apprenticed with Chef Jean Paul Harechabache, a French-Vietnamese, who taught me about cooking fish.  I worked at Laguna Niguel and The Ritz Carlton in Atlanta and in Palm Springs. I became the executive chef at the Italian restaurant, Veni, Vidi, Vici before relocating to Los Angeles where I became the executive chef at Morton’s, the original Hollywood Steakhouse.  I eventually moved onto Kass Bah, a little bistro that served a California/Italian faire. After that I became the executive chef at Reign where I earned a bigger salary and favorable reviews.â€?

He eventually opened his own restaurant G. Garvins in L.A. in 2001 which is presently in the final stages of escrow.  Television presented itself through TV One and three months after talking to the top brass Turning Up the Heat with G. Garvin became a reality.

Garvin enjoys making pastries but seafood is his special passion.  “Food is exciting around the world with many wonderful ways to prepare it. I think Italians are truly authentic in how they cook.  They squeeeeeze an olive!  There are 7 different versions of olive oil in Italy.  But the French believe they are the best, so technique-wise I have to give it to the French.   I also think the Americans are underrated.  There are some great chefs in America.  Americans can provide excellent regional foods cooked in a variety of delicious styles,â€?  he said. “I try to cook healthy. 

I will use butter but I won’t use pork fats.  I use a lot of fresh ingredients.  I bake, boil, broil, and occasionally fry.  I try to make food look attractive.  The look is as important as the taste…I may start to highlight, individuals, various restaurants and bakeries on my show.  I am planning a show with firefighters and some of the boys and girls in blue.  Though we’ve taped in LA primarily, this upcoming season we are planning to tape on the east coast in New York, Chicago, and Atlanta.â€?  Garvin has a learning DVD series in the works called “Real Time Cooking with G. Garvin.â€?  The DVDs are paired with wine choices and appetizers, eventually the DVDs will feature desserts. Its more about menu than meal,â€? stressed Garvin about the DVDs.

Single, with a two year old daughter, Garvin finds a way to make it all work. “I’m working on my first cookbook, I travel. I interview. I am in the studio. It takes commitment to do all I do,â€? says the creative epicurean. “I believe in God first and family, exercise, and doing your best.  So, for me, it’s about integrity.  If you can imagine it, you can make it real.  A man becomes a man once he’s found his self worth and only after finding that certain grace within himself.â€?


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