For today’s Small Business Saturday feature, we’re thrilled to feature the chef who owns a restaurant in Katy we love and is lending his culinary skills for our Moms Night Out event next week! Chef Luis Martinez, Venezuelan born, has a true gift with food. We’re so excited for you guys to try his amazing food at our event with the knowledge you can also enjoy his dishes right here in Katy at Essentials Kitchen on 1463! It’s the cutest spot, BYOB, and kid friendly. Chef Martinez has had an extensive career as a chef in some of the country’s best restaurants and continues to have a career in catering events. Essentials Kitchen was a passion project and something Chef wanted to leave with his family to run one day. Speaking of family, Luis is a true family man. He adores his wife and two daughters and loves calling Katy home. This family is so genuine and the love they put into their business shows. We’re honored to be giving the spotlight to Chef Martinez today to talk about his business and family life and Katy!
Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in the Katy area?
I was born in Venezuela. Moved to Montreal-Canada in 1994 where I studied culinary arts and lived for 8 years. Lived in Princeton, New Jersey 12 years and now 6 Years in Katy.
Are you a Dad? How old are your kids?
2 sons: 29 and 28 years old. Luis Alberto Martinez and Daniel Eduardo Martinez
2 Daughters: 11 and 13 years old. Melissa Martinez and Melanie Martinez
How long had you been a chef?
Officially a Chef, 12 years. Graduated in 1996 in Culinary Arts and worked in restaurants since. But Chef is who controls the Kitchen. 12 years.
Tell us about your chef career prior to opening your own restaurant.
I worked in restaurants in Montreal, Key West – Florida, Italy, Princeton – NJ, Mainly Italian cuisine. Invited by the Prince of Morocco “ Moulay Hicham” to expend 2 weeks in Tetouan and Casa Cablanca to experiment Moroccan cuisine. Trained in Italian cuisine in Sardinia, Savona and Piedmont. In 2012, I decided to open my Private Parties and Cooking Classes. Business that I brought to Katy and grew it exponentially and now I opened the restaurant on Aug 13th 2018.
Have you always had a love for cooking, when did that start for you?
When I moved to Montreal and had to look for a job, I found a job as a dishwasher. Was curious in the kitchen and started learning some dishes and getting more compliments than the Chef himself. That got me excited and decided to go to the Culinary School and wanted to become the best version of myself. I realized I could touch people’s hearts with my food.
When did you open Essential Kitchen here in Katy? And what was the inspiration behind starting your own restaurant?
August 13th 2018. I wanted to reach more people with my cooking. To me is more about people than cooking itself. And thought that it could be something that I could leave to my daughters if ever something happen to me.
What type of food do you serve at Essentials Kitchen and what makes it unique to other restaurants in the area?
South American Food with a Twist.
We blend South American ingredients like no one else. I also have pastas in my menu since I grew up (culinary speaking in Italian cuisine) everything is fresh made to order; we don’t have frozen pre-made food. Every dish is made in our kitchen to order.
We serve arepas, tostones, tacos, empanadas, ceviches, soup, salads, paella, steaks and we are adding new items to the menu
Do you have any culinary specialties or foods that are your favorite to cook?
Pastas and Steaks.
What other services do you offer the Katy community? (catering, dinner parties, etc)
Catering, Dinner Parties, Tapas (heavy appetizers) parties, cocktail parties, corporate events, Weddings, cooking classes.
How has the Katy community impacted your business?
I think we are all family in this town. I would like to have more people know what we are doing here. Probably it has impacted more in my life.
Best advice for someone wanting to take the leap of faith into entrepreneurship or wanting to open their own business?
Think on the people you are going to serve; In any type of business. Have faith in your capacities and make sure you love the business you are getting into. Sounds cliché, but is real, you have to love what you do, because it’s really hard.
Who inspires you most in business and who inspires you most in fatherhood?
Business: Grant Cardone. I relate myself with his story, and admire what he has accomplished.
Fatherhood: I know many good fathers, my father is the one I think of when I am in a difficult situation, he planted in me optimism, self confident, and faith in god. I ask myself what he would do if he were in the same situation.
Future plans for your business?
Want to grow the catering business and restaurant. We want to be the restaurant to go to for everyone in Katy. We will be creating Chef Dinners for those that like to be adventurous.
We are always looking for talented people to come to work with us and help us grow.
To learn more about Chef Martinez and Essentials Kitchen:
Essential Kitchen: 2731 FM 1463 suite 800, Katy, TX 77494