Chef Romero’s Guacamole
I always knew I was going to get tattooed,” said Chef Romero. Rolling up his sleeves, the chef reveals a collection of colorful designs. “They’re a part of me now. I can’t imagine seeing my body without them.”
Chef Romero teaches the culinary arts at Le Cordon Bleu in Hollywood. Several years ago, when I attended classes at The Kitchen Academy (recently purchased by Le Cordon Bleu), Chef Romero was the instructor who had the greatest influence on me and who taught me the most valuable lesson that I learned about cooking: to trust my instincts. Attending culinary school was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, and he was a big part of that. Recently, I went back to Le Cordon Bleu to chat with Chef Romero about his life, his cooking, and his tattoos.
So, why did the chef get his first tattoo? “Teen stupidity,” he confessed with a laugh. “I grew up in the L.A. punk scene. A lot of the kids had tattoos and I knew I was going to get them. I had a crush on a girl who was a really talented artist. One day I was looking at her sketchbook, saw one of her drawings and said, ‘Whoa, that’s just what I want!’ She tore out the picture, handed it to me, and said, ‘Go for it!’ So then I had to!”
Of course, that was only the beginning. “It’s kind of cliche,” said the chef, “but it’s true: Once you get the first tattoo, you pretty much know at that moment whether or not you’re going to get more. And I knew I was in trouble. I was going to get many, many more!”
Today, Chef Romero’s arms are decorated with a matching pair of flames, while his shoulders sport two lions — one angry, one somber — in honor of Leo, his zodiac sign. One of his wrists is also decorated an Asian symbol for “double happiness” — and his wife has a matching design on her wrist. (Their wedding was based on that theme.) The chef’s most recent tattoo is a red dahlia blossoming on his right bicep.
Following high school, Chef Romero worked in a music store and then as a personal trainer and a massage therapist. “I originally started going to cooking classes just to expand my horizons — my girlfriend at the time was vegetarian, and I was bored cooking the same thing. At one point, my instructor said, ‘Wow! This looks like something you really have a lot of fun at!’ I realized it was, and that maybe this is something I should consider doing.” At first, Chef Romero attended culinary school with the idea of augmenting his work as a personal trainer and message therapist with his skills as a chef. “But soon I realized that personal training and message therapy were becoming secondary to me,” he explained, “and cooking became what I did. I did catering for five to six years. I had the good luck of going up the ladder rather quickly, making decent money.”
Today, culinary schools are busier than ever — thanks, in part, to the explosion of cooking-themed programming on television — although some students begin with unrealistic expectations. “They want to be TV stars,” notes the chef. However, cooking on a professional level is demanding work — in which speed, order and cleanliness are required at all times. “It’s all about the clock. I remember every day getting into the restaurant, and the first thing I would look at is the clock. It’s like ‘Go!’” he said with a burst of energy. “‘I need to do this and this and this — and this is how much time I have!’ It just becomes a race against the clock — all of the time.” According to Chef Romero, that sense of urgency is one of the hardest lessons for students to learn.
Chef Romero is well known among his friends, family and colleagues for his delicious guacamole, and has agreed to share his recipe with tattooroadtrip.com “You can play with the ingredients, if you want,” he says, “but the key is to find the right avocados — not too green, not too soft, somewhere in-between.” The chef also stresses that you should never mash the ingredients together. Instead, “gently mix the avocado and other ingredients with a fork.” That way, your guacamole will be silky but maintain its structure.
• 7-8 Hass Avocados
• Tomatoes, Seeded and Diced
• Red Onion, Small Diced
• 1 Bunch of Cilantro, Chopped
• 2 Serrano Chilies, Finely Diced
• ¼ Cup Lime Juice Plus More
• Kosher Salt
• Black Pepper
“It’s very much like put what you want in it. But there’s some things that are essential to the ingredients. ”
1. To start, Chef Romero recommends getting the right kind of avocados. “Me, personally, I think guacamole should have some structure. The avocados shouldn’t be so hard, and they shouldn’t be so green that you’ll be able to taste the greenness in them. But, they shouldn’t be so soft that you make mush. So try to find them in between. Get some good Hass ones.”
2. Fork the avocados. Don’t smash them, which will turn your guacamole into mush.
3. Gently mix in the rest of the ingredients. Season with plenty salt and pepper to taste and add more lime juice if desired. Chef Romero recommends Serrano chilies for a spicier guacamole. If you want to turn down the heat, remove the seeds from the chilies.
This recipe makes about two to three cups of guacamole.
Chef Romero suggests serving his guacamole with warm tortillas or tortillas chips. Yum!