The Philadelphia Diet

Iron Chef Jose Garces Eats Pretty Much Nonstop to Ensure Everything on His Menu Is Perfect

Jose Garces
Jose Garces Photo: Courtesy GRG

With his seventh Philadelphia restaurant, JG Domestic, finally opened, Jose Garces says he can get back to a more sensible diet. Time and again in the run-up to its opening, the Iron Chef and his staff went through the menu top to bottom, cooking, tasting, going back to the kitchen to tweak recipes, and tasting more for several weeks. “If I ate like this everyday, I wouldn’t be able to fit through the door,” Garces told Grub Street. “It’s one of the occupational hazards of being a chef,” he said. “But it’s a sacrifice you have to make for the sake of the restaurant. Everything on the menu must be absolutely perfect before you can open.” This week, with the opening behind him, Garces said he plans to “get back on track,” which for him means scheduling sessions with his personal trainer, eating smarter and consuming less. Click through to see what Garces ate the week before debuting JG Domestic.

Monday, October 4
Typically I start off everyday making breakfast for my kids. I like to get them off to a good start with eggs, sausage, waffles or pancakes, but I don’t eat a big meal like that in the morning. I usually have whole wheat toast, a banana, yogurt and light granola. I’m trying get oatmeal into my diet more too.

I started today with a cup of Garces Trading Company Reserva coffee.

Life’s been a little hectic lately, but I’ve been making an effort to eat a better lunch. I’ve been trying to have some protein and a salad or a light sandwich. Today, I grabbed a tuna melt from Bridgewater’s Pub in 30th Street Station.

When I arrived home at 10 p.m., I had some rigatoni with chicken, mushrooms and Parmesan in a light cream sauce that my wife Beatriz made.

I also had one Wallaby blueberry yogurt. Beatriz buys them for our kids, but I end up eating them pretty often.

Tuesday, October 5
Again, I started today with a cup of Garces Trading Company Reserva coffee.

Since we’re opening a new restaurant JG Domestic, this was the first day of tastings and food shows with the new staff during their training. I had a little bit of each dish so I’m pretty full at the end of the day. I won’t eat again until late at night and after I’ve assessed how I feel I might have a little snack. Here are the items we tasted today:

Market Crudité, seasonal baby vegetables, Green Goddess dressing, and California olive oil.

Heirloom crimson popcorn, with cheddar and horseradish.

Smoked pecans, with maple and bacon.

Fondue, with Keswick Creamery cheese, grilled baguette, Vidalia onion jam and apple.

Church Brothers Farm baby arugula with creamy black pepper vinaigrette, Mission fig, walnut, and red Comice pear.

Cranberry bean soup, housemade chorizo, brussels sprouts and local apple emulsion.

J.G Domestic Crab Louie, with Miles River Blue Crab, bibb lettuce, cucumber and hard boiled quail egg.

Salt and vinegar kettle chips, with housemade ranch.

Red-veined spinach, with spinach from my garden, huckleberry vinaigrette, La Quercia Prosciutto, crushed hazelnuts, Sartori Stravecchio, Medjool dates.

No dinner tonight. I was too full from the day’s tasting.

Wednesday, October 6
One cup of Garces Trading Compnay Reserva coffee and a Fage Greek yogurt with fresh blueberries and granola from Whole Foods.

Then I flew to Kentucky to participate in the James Beard House’s “Cookin’ in the Bluegrass.”

My sous chef Andrew and I went to a wine bar called Dudley’s and had some Valdeon cheese and some local aged goat cheese, served with housemade water crackers. Dudley’s chef Eric Fowler invited us back to throw down in his kitchen after the James Beard Event, which we did. I made a beet salad and Andrew cooked up an incredible shallot wine sauce that we had over some local ribeye steaks. We were all drinking some nice glasses of cabernet and grenache.

Thursday, October 7
I started with a cup of coffee and a banana at the Louisville airport. I flew home to Philadelphia and went straight to JG Domestic.

More food show and menu tastings for JG Domestic. This time I tasted the following:

JG Domestic burger

House pastrami, with braised cabbage, house mustard and country sourdough bread.

Wood oven organic chicken, with roasted long hots, Keswick Creamery Tomme, herb aioli and beer battered onion rings.

Shrimp Po’boy, with Marvesta prawns, bacon and chipotle remoulade.

Berkshire garlic sausage, with pickled cabbage and hot mustard.

Smoked Berkshire pork, Carolina style BBQ with apple slaw and potato roll.

Wood oven mushrooms, Kennett Square mushrooms, semolina flatbread, Sartori Stravecchio and watercress.

Fish and chips, with Pacific black cod, fries and malt vinegar aioli.

Whitewater mussels, with Duxbury, MA mussels, Allagash White Ale, garlic sausage and potato.

For dinner, I got home and my mom was making spaghetti and meatballs. They were delicious!

Friday, October 8
One cup of Garces Trading Company Reserva coffee

More JG Domestic tastings, which this time included:

Wild King salmon from Washington, poached egg, black olive, brioche, finger lime and smoked steelhead roe.

Sauteed prawns, with spiced tomato broth, preserved lemon and sourdough crouton.

Wild boar rack, with mustard glaze and Anson Mills maple grits.

Wagyu skirt, Strube Ranch Wagyu skirt steak with cider glazed cippolini and fried green chiles.

Lamb spareribs, with country fried apples and roasted peanuts.

Jidori chicken, with cornflake crust, white yam, chicken liver gravy.

For dinner, I made Italian at home with my kids. They love my linguine and clams with homemade garlic bread.

Iron Chef Jose Garces Eats Pretty Much Nonstop to Ensure Everything on His Menu