Today we talk to Chef Jose Chesa of Ataula, Chesa, and 180. He shares his thoughts on family, raising a child, and work.
Father’s Day is coming up, what does Father’s Day mean to you and your family?
Everyday is Father's Day! (and mothers day). In Spain Father's Day is March 19 (Saint Joseph's Day). I get to celebrate two Father's Day a year! I like to be conscious of the day and really just honor my father, remember my father-in-law, my grandfather; those generation of man who taught the men who taught me. It’s meaningful to me because I get to celebrate the circle of life and the importance of a father figure in a child's life.
Even as a kid family has meant everything to me. I was raised by my grandmother and my mother in a small family. My father was always, always working but he did his best to be there for us. For me family is my roots, my temple is the people who tell the truth to your face and push you to be better, carry you when you're down or exhausted and support you no matter what. Family is my inspiration! I opened Chesa with my family Sunday dinners at heart!
How do you balance your work life as a chef and home life as a father?
That’s a good one. Being a cook is intense. It's what I breathe and eat and bathed in everyday since I was fourteen. Then my son Ethan was born - I remember holding him the very first few hours of his life and looking to my wife and saying "I don't know how to go back to the kitchen..." She replied "let's just take it a day at time".
Becoming a father, as with everyone, shakes you up in ways you never thought. I take it a day at a time and my family is always my priority. But it's a constant rollercoaster to find that balance. I find it by bringing my son to work and feeding him lunch, waking up after closing at 2am to take him to school and have breakfast. I find balance in the little things and spending time together. Families need to spend time together to love and annoy each other and to grow together...so I make sure we do.
Tell us about the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a father and how you have overcome it?
The biggest challenges for me are two things: one is being consistent and being present in my family's life. It helps that my wife and I work together because we both understand what comes with the territory. You have to walk the walk and not just talk. BEING PRESENT is a must and because of our lifestyle it can be quite tough.
Second simply worrying about the well being of this little person that is always, always looking up to me and imitating me in character or silliness. Being conscious to set "the right example" that is super-mega hard! It took me a while but I do my very best to overcome it by trusting the circle of life, by doing my very best setting my priorities straight and my family is top of the list and by trusting in my child's journey.
Can you tell us about something that makes you happy as a father?
When I see my kid. When I see him hugging his mom, when he says "I love you" out of the blue. When he says, "Lets go to restaurant to see papa!" I cannot put into words how awesome that makes me feel - it really is all about those little moments
How do you celebrate with your family?
We celebrate with food! A great BBQ or chow mein, dim sum or my favorite any rice dish!
Anything else you'd like to share with us?
Be kind, respectful, and smile every day to everyone you cross your path with and mean it. Little gestures like "hello, good morning, good evening, have a nice day" go a long way, they really do. Life is tough and we are all struggling for many different reason and if we are all nicer to each other well, we would all have a better days!
Thank you to Chef Chesa for taking time out of his busy day to participate in our Father's Day series.