Monday, February 25, 2013
When Georgina's officially opened for business on February 12, owner and chef Anthony Craig brought a welcome touch of Asian and Latin fusion to downtown Traverse City. You'll find the new restaurant at 439 East Front Street, in the spot formerly occupied by 9 Bean Rows. We checked in with Chef Anthony to find out a little bit more about him. Luckily for us, he has friends in Michigan and came here to try something new.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in Bluefields, Nicaragua. My mom is half-Chinese and half Nicaraguan and my dad is Cuban. I was adopted by my American father. I lived in Tampa my whole life. I worked corporate restaurants mostly, but my mom and uncle both owned restaurants in Nicaragua. As a child, I would walk through the restaurants and I just fell in love with the food. I was blessed that I got to see a huge array of cooking because my best friends Stephano and Dino's family owned a fine-dining restaurant in Tampa called Donatello and I was exposed to all types of cooking. My uncle is full Chinese, so I got a great array of Chinese cooking too. I also spent a lot of time in Miami and they have all kinds of food, so I learned a lot there as well.
What are your plans for Georgina's?
I have always wanted to have my own place where I can show you my life experiences through food. This spot just happens to be where I am first establishing. I am giving to Traverse City a taste of what gave me a smile as a kid.
What beliefs shape your approach to food and your work?
Food is who I am. Get to know me and you'll get to know where I come from through my food. No different than if you get to know who you are, you'll be able to tell me who you are through the food you have in your home. You're not just American, you're an immigrant American. We're all immigrants.
All of it. Ha ha! That's the truth. It all depends on the mood I'm in. If I'm hanging out with my uncle and I want to go eat Dim Sum? Am I hanging out with my cousin where I to go eat Nacatamales (Nicaraguan Street Food)? Am I hanging out with Luis and I want to eat empanadas and drink Cuban coffee? It all depends.
What's on your playlist when you're in the kitchen cooking?
Luis Miguel is my guy. Nothing is more beautiful than romantic Latin music.
And your number one kitchen tool?
My spoon and my cutting board. My spoon is used to stir everything. My cutting board is where I do everything; where I weigh food, put plates, cut, everything.
Any tips for making people feel confident preparing food?
Do what you love. If you like salty, then do salty. Just be able to explain it to someone. Don't pretend you know how.
Anything else you'd like to tell us?
You may not like my food but I will teach you about my culture and you'll gain an understanding of me, that's for sure.