Meet the Chef: Ramon Vazquez

Ramon Vazquez, sous chef at Elfo's
MICHAEL DONAHUE / The Commercial Appeal

Photo by Michael Donahue // Buy this photo

Ramon Vazquez, sous chef at Elfo's MICHAEL DONAHUE / The Commercial Appeal

Title: Sous chef at Elfo's restaurant

Age: 29

Hometown: Michoacan, Mexico

Who or what was your first cooking influence? When I was little, mama, grandmother were big in cooking and making some really good mole, tamales ... So, I was always around that good food.

What was the first thing you ever cooked or baked? I guess it was eggs. Very simple. I remember just frying some eggs, and throwing (in) some salsa and peppers and tomatoes and it was just a mess, but it was good.

When did you decide to become a chef? It just happened. I moved here when I was about 16. I worked here and there and I couldn't find a good place to stay ... Then one day a friend of mine was working with Ronnie (Grisanti at Ronnie Grisanti & Sons Restaurant at the old Poplar location) and they needed a dishwasher. ... That's where I started. Washing dishes. One day they needed a prep and then I went and prepped. Then one day they needed a cook. I said, "OK."

What is something important a fellow chef taught you? I went to BlueFin (Edge Cuisine & Sushi Lounge) to work with Nick Scott (former executive chef). I never made sushi in my life before. ... They (said), "OK, there's rules here. You've got to have your own knife. And you got to know how to sharpen it." It took me like five hours to sharpen my first knife.

Have you ever created something in the kitchen? I like to fuse food, but I don't want to say I create.

Have you ever cooked for a celebrity? I have. Jerry West (former Memphis Grizzlies general manager). It was his birthday. It was pretty cool. He came in the kitchen and he just asked me questions about the food. ... That was just at his house with just family and friends. He was fascinated about what we were cooking. I made sushi for Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol.

What do you cook at home, if anything? Oh, man, I keep it very simple. Hamburgers. Steak sandwich. I like bologna. Sometimes I go crazy and make some sushi, some Italian.

What's your favorite Mexican food? Mole. It's real good. For Thanksgiving, that's how I make my turkey. Just bake my turkey and make some mole sauce and when it's done, just combine.

Elfo's Restaurant is at 2285 South Germantown Road; (901) 753-4017.

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