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Exploring Life & Business with William Torres of Seasoned Chef

Today we’d like to introduce you to William Torres.

Hi William, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
It all started when I was 16 years old at Friendly’s Ice Cream Restaurant on the east coast where I grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts I was hired as a dishwasher! I worked at this store throughout my high school years, as it was the hot spot for all of the high schoolers after games & general hang out.

So naturally, I didn’t have many friends, but I had work and that’s all that really mattered at the time. One day there was a huge rush at the ice cream store and the General Manager had asked me to help out at the ice cream sundae counter, I was so eager to get out of the dish pit!

It wasn’t even a few moments later when I turned around to see the griddle catch fire due to burgers being cooked on it, that I realized OMG I wanna be that “guy”, making awesome food that everyone at the time was raving about! I wanted my chance to shine and thus began my culinary journey.

As I continued to grow up, I soon found myself as a line cook for many fast food establishments, but none ever felt fulfilling, or captivated my need & curiosity to actually cook! I eventually found myself across the country in Arizona where I still continued to cook, but now at Senior Living Communities.

It wasn’t as glamorous, or as fast-paced as a casual restaurant, however it gave me something different, it gave me an ability to learn, and understand how to better utilize ingredients, & repurpose food items for multiple uses, it was the real starting point for the idea of “From Scratch Cooking”.

I began learning, practicing, and twisting original ideas and trying them out at home some failures, quite a few burnt things, and some added brilliance to certain entrees. I felt empowered, like the things I can create no one else can do (which wasn’t true at the time lol), but it did give me more confidence to continually push to do better, to want more, and so I ventured from Tucson, Arizona to Phoenix, Arizona where the unexpected happened… I met my wife!

No, not my food wife, but an actual person my beautiful wife Cassandra. We struggled a bit because the pay for line cooking wasn’t really much and we weren’t living in the greatest conditions, no extras, no amenities, or even a little bit to hang out! It was frustrating, but my wife has always pressured me to push myself, to actually open my eyes and see what I am capable of.

Eventually, I did get a shot at greatness by becoming an Executive Chef/ Food Service Director for a senior living community and it was through that career that allowed me to implement my own cooking ideas & take on cuisine that allowed my creative expression out. I also can take into the part, having worked in senior living cooking and gained full knowledge in all respective diets such as renal, gastro-intestinal, diabetic, pre/post-surgery, & some religious.

But once again like all good things come to an end, the particular population that I was cooking for wanted plain Jane food nothing exciting, or experimenting, but just plain salt ‘n pepper type of cuisine. So naturally feeling myself in a creative rut, my wife said, “why don’t you do what you have always wanted & cook what you love and share it with others!” I was like what do you mean, and she gave me the guts to create SEASONED CHEF AZ!

So I began putting myself out there displaying plating, explaining food delicacies, and items that I would prepare myself, and sourcing high-end ingredients if needed for clients. I have reached a place of true joy, not only for myself but for my family & the true happiness I get out of making my own dishes & sharing them with people!

I have finally achieved what I have wanted, along with doing what very few people can honestly say and that is I have fun at work, I love what I do, & the fact that I can do it for myself and share memorable experiences with food makes it all worthwhile.

So after many years, of trials, struggles, & finding myself and who I am I realized that I am a Chef with a driven focus on quality ingredients for fantastic foods!

I am that “guy” that I wanted to e as a child, with a sheer determination & the drive to succeed at the age of 16, but now with way more experience, appreciation, and an endless drive to continue to create flavorful unique cuisine for everyone!

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?
I guess if I had to say anything about struggling it’s always self-doubt!

That no matter what, I was never good enough. Another big struggle was working for someone else at a Country club, resort, restaurant, or wherever because you have no say & are still doing things the way the present Exec. Chef does things or wants, or the way an owner of an establishment wants things done.

Your thoughts and ideas are most of the time invalid. Another typical struggle that I have faced in my career is a huge factor which is my family and having beautiful children that you never see, or spend time with because of the demand of this industry!

I never really got or get to spend real time with family due to the demands of this career, you will work holidays, weekends, and on-demand when call outs occur (quite frequently), therefore a sense of work, life, and balance was definitely needed to become a thing of practice!

Hence the reason for pursuing a different approach via SEASONED CHEF AZ. All I can finish up with struggling is that you are not alone everyone goes through it, but persevere & remain determined because you will always come out on top!

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
Culinary is a form of artistry, not all people think so but some do. Most just want to be able to sit, eat, & enjoy their food, some are quick to shovel it up and go.

But I find those cooks, chefs, whoever it may be who take the time to give guests or customers a genuine experience find the simplest gestures rewarding, such as a smile when they try your food for the first time, or an OMG that smells amazing, or the delectable “Mmmmm” tasty sound (that’s my favorite). It’s those moments that every chef lives for in my opinion.

The particular work I believe is what sets me apart from others is, that I try to create unlimited/ memorable dining experiences. I keep an open mind in menu development when creating multiple varieties of cuisines for people. I am able to prepare many different cuisines from Rustic Americana, Italian, French, Mexican, Spanish, Asian, Vegetarian, etc. I create food & flavors all across the board, to suit people’s needs.

I also offer private chef services & catering for family events, weddings, birthdays, bachelor/ bachelorette, romantic dinners, company meetings, cooking classes, you name it! What I am actually known for are the flavors that I put into food/ cuisines and the rustic plating. Aside from that, just always being humble, having a pleasant demeanor, and at some moments some goofy dancing celebratory scenes! My favorite type of food to prepare has always been Italian (which is my first food love).

I have my own dish that I love recreating my Tuscan Chicken Entrée which comprises marinated chicken using white balsamic vinegar, pepperoncini, Thai basil, fresh roasted garlic, EVOO, minced shallots, & a light mixture of Italian spices.

It is then allowed to marinate overnight, then charbroiled served with a parmesan peppercorn risotto comprised of freshly shaved parmesan cheese, white wine reduction, chicken stock, whole black peppercorns, accompanied with prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, finished with a drizzle of balsamic reduction & micro greens garnish.

I meticulously put genuine practice & thought into every dish, every menu, and every flavor profile that is created & geared to every client on a personal level!

How do you define success?
Success to me is defined by the happiness I get to see in my children & my wife when we succeed together!

When I get to prep alongside my children and watch my wife smile when she greets customers & goes into detail about event planning/ coordinating food for a client’s event.

The fact that I get to spend that time with them, and still do what I love makes it all worthwhile!

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