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Life & Work with Patrick Freitas

Today we’d like to introduce you to Patrick Freitas.

Hi Patrick, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
Food has always been at my core. Not in the sense that it all goes to my stomach, but in the way it has shaped mine and my family’s history. Simply put, I come from a family of cooks and farmers. My mom’s side has been farming for centuries (literally) and it’s still something we do to this day. Growing up visiting my family’s orchards, getting a first-hand look and knowledge of where our produce comes from, then seeing how that food was transformed into a plethora of beautiful dishes is something I hold very dear to me.

My family has many good cooks, but my Grandfather and Mom are especially badass. They are my original cooking idols who inspired and encouraged me to follow my passion for cooking. They both like to cook for a crowd, and watching the joy and camaraderie they bring to others through their food is something I try to replicate when I cook. Just thinking about it makes me happy.

My first introduction to the culinary industry was as a dishwasher for Sur La Table’s cooking classes. The chefs there were so burnt out on cooking. They would look at the menus and ingredients with such disdain that it looked painful for them to even be near them. They hated cooking, and they would say it often. Yet, knowing what they really thought behind the scenes, when class would startup, I couldn’t help but think they looked so cool with their knife skills and endless stories. I wanted those skills. I wanted those stories, so I decided to go to culinary school and see for myself if things were as bad as I had heard.

After finishing my program, I went on to work and stage in San Francisco for a while before eventually moving to LA. I’ve been very blessed to get to be in some amazing restaurants, branching a multitude of styles of cuisine since coming here, yet working with the Rustic Canyon Family has definitely been the highlight. I had long admired the food of chefs Bryant Ng (Cassia) and Jeremy Fox (Rustic Canyon, Tallula’s and Birdie G’s), and getting to work for both of them has been very rewarding in their own ways.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Although I have many fond memories of cooking over the years, it hasn’t always been easy. I’ve struggled both mentally and physically on many occasions.

Thinking back, I’ve probably made every silly mistake you can make in a kitchen – broken sauces, overcooked proteins, huge messes, you name it. Most of which were followed by disappointment or anger from my managers and peers. There were a lot of nights, especially for the first two years, where I felt like I couldn’t compete. Yet, I wouldn’t change any of it.

During those times I struggled, was laughed at, was ostracized, or was just plain not good enough, that’s when I ended up learning the most. That notion of never wanting to be that hopeless and frustrated again drives me to this day to continue to hone my craft.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I’m currently working as a chef de partie (aka line cook) at Birdie G’s in Santa Monica and have been there for a year and a half now. We specialize in comforting, All-American cuisine with some Jewish and Eastern European influences, and we utilize a plethora of amazing seasonal produce that we get from various farms in the area. I’m always excited to see what new ingredients there are to play with everyday. We have an amazing team that I’m excited to go to war with every day. Through ups and downs, we all want to push ourselves to grow to be better chefs than the day before and that’s very exciting to me.

I’m primarily known for my work on the grill, level-headedness and affable personality. Cooking over open flames is a passion of mine and something I’ve come to take great pride in. It’s taken a long time to develop my technique—I used to be…let’s say, rough around the edges—and it’s something I look to improve on every day. To me, it’s the method of cooking that makes the most sense.

When I’m not on our grill, you can find me working our float station, helping with any emergency prep issues and doing any of the day’s butchery projects. Breaking down fish and proteins is my moment of zen for the day and something I look forward to often.

Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out?
My advice to people just starting out is to leave your ego at the door and always be ready to do the things that scare you. When I first started, I wanted to be Alain Passard right from the get-go and I got very frustrated when I realized I couldn’t even cut chives the right way. I had all these expectations that were unrealistic and self-serving, and in the end, it hindered my progress. If I had listened more and worried less about these distractions, I would have been better off.

I also believe in doing the things that scare you. More often than not, they aren’t as bad as they seem, and you come out on the other side better for it. Never let your fear hold you back from taking the next step.

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

Lindsey Huttrer for the portrait and Jeremy Fox for all the food photos.

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