“It runs in the family” may be the truest phrase for the Garcia family.
Second, there’s Alma Garcia — Carlos’ wife and the head baker at Puckett’s Boat House (also part of A. Marshall Food’s family of restaurants). Have you ever tasted their absolutely amazing key lime pie with homemade almond & walnut crust? How about the gluten-free mango coconut cheesecake with blueberry drizzle and date crust? That’s all Alma.
And THEN, there’s Alma Garcia Herrera — the daughter of Carlos and Alma, and a culinary protege.
Alma 2.0 is heading off to the Culinary Institute of America in NYC (the world’s premier culinary college) this month, and we are proud to call her one of our own!
Alma first started working with her mom & dad in the Puckett’s Boat House kitchen in 2014, during summer break and over weekends during the school year. When Harvest opened, Alma joined her dad at Homestead Manor, working the salad, saute and expo lines and learning her way around the pizza ovens (“it’s truly an art”).
Soon, Alma graduated to head pastry chef at Harvest.
Today was Alma’s last day in the Harvest kitchen. To celebrate her + her very bright future, we put together a Q&A…. read up, because this won’t be the last you’ve heard of Alma Garcia Herrera!
Q: Can you recall your your first memory of being in kitchen?
Alma: My first memory of being in the kitchen was when my Mama Licha (grandma) was finishing frosting a cake, I was only about 4 years old, but I vividly remember asking her if I could help. She was very surprised when I asked, but without much hesitation she passed me the spatula and let me do my thing. I remember her telling me that I did a better job than her; to this day It’s one of my fondest memories.
Q: When was it that you knew you wanted to be a chef?
Alma: I knew I wanted to be a chef from a very young age, In second grade we had to trace our bodies and draw ourselves as what we wanted to be when we grew up and even as a second grader I knew this is what I wanted. It wasn’t until culinary arts class in high school when it actually became real to me that this is what I loved to do. I was so blessed to have had Ms. Johnson as my culinary teacher for 3 years, she always believed in me and helped me grow my passion.
Q Who has been your biggest culinary influence (s)?
Alma: My biggest influence has without a doubt been my dad, I’ve watched him do what he loves and advance in his career and I hope to be half the chef he is one day. He’s always been my number one fan and he’s supported and guided me in everything Ive ever wanted to do. He took me in to work with him at Boathouse and Homestead and gave me my first hands on kitchen experiences. He and my mom have done everything in their power to give me the opportunity to go to my dream school and I’m so thankful for such amazing parents.
Q What’s it like being part of a foodie family?
Alma: Well aside from always having incredible food, it’s really great to be able to grow from each other. My mom is really into baking, so she gets ideas from my dad, and my dad uses her creations for his own inspiration… and I use them both as a platform for my own growth. There’s never been competition over who’s best, we all praise each other and use it as a way to connect as a family.
Q We hear you’re going to the Culinary Institute of America! Has this always been a dream? Tell us about your journey to get there.
Alma:Going to the CIA has been a dream of mine since freshman year, and it was a dream come true being accepted. This is considered “the premier culinary school” and even just getting accepted was very exciting, finally receiving my acceptance letter made all the work I put forth the past couple years worth it.
I can’t thank the Marshall family enough for the incredible support they’ve given me, they’re the major reason I’m able to make my dream a reality and I hope to make them proud!
Psssst: Alma has been selling her homemade tamales at the Thompson’s Station Farmer’s Market to save money for school. She says she sells up to 300+ per day… buy them while you can!
Q In 10 years, what do you think you’ll be doing?
Alma: In ten years I hope to be working on my first restaurant. My major goal is to successfully own a place and be able to share my passion with people, and make them happy with the things that makes me the happy.
Q Baking or cooking…. which one?
Alma: Definitely cooking. I love the idea of creating savory dishes that bring people together. That’s not to say I can’t make a killer cupcake too, I just tend to lean more towards the savory side of things.
Q What’s your favorite thing to create in the kitchen?
Alma: It’s really hard for me to pick a favorite, because I just really love food, but definitely one most fun things I’ve made is sushi. That’s one of my dad’s favorite foods and we’ve made it together for dinner and had a great time!
Alma is modest, but her accomplishments are many. When she was a sophomore in high school, her culinary class took home first place in Tennessee’s Family, Career and Community Leaders of America cooking competition, and went on to win the bronze medal at nationals! She was the Vice President of the culinary chapter for her junior and senior years. Now, she’s making her mark on New York City! We’re excited to watch your journey, Alma. Cheers to you!