Alejandra Garcia: 10 Years in the Kitchen at Rosemary’s
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Name and Current Role: Alejandra Garcia, Pastry Chef and Lead Prep Cook
Restaurant: Rosemary’s, New York City
Year Joined: 2012
Salir adelante — Meaning “to get ahead,” it is a phrase Alejandra Garcia repeats when asked about her 10-plus years working at Rosemary’s, an Italian-influenced restaurant in New York City’s West Village.
Garcia uses it to describe her own experience over the years as she has worked her way up the kitchen ladder to her current roles as pastry chef and lead prep cook.
Garcia also employs “salir adelante” to describe the women who have come through Rosemary’s doors after her, women she has mentored so they, as she did, might know the opportunities that a business like Rosemary’s might afford them.
In 1992, Garcia left her hometown of Huaquechula in the Mexican state of Puebla, a pueblo legendary for its opulent cabo del año altars during Day of the Dead. She came to New York seeking opportunity, she tells me as we toggle between Spanish and English. “I worked in a factory making clothes near Koreatown,” she recalls. “Then a place where they made ice cream: a Pinkberry, way Uptown.” In time, she segued to the kitchen of a French restaurant in Midtown, then began at the salad station at Rosemary’s in June of 2012. As the ensuing decade ticked on, Garcia became an indispensable element of the Manhattan hotspot’s kitchen team. Now, she oversees the pastry program and the Rosemary’s prep crew.
I like to know exactly what is expected of me and how to do it correctly. That way if my work is correct, the next person in line at the restaurant after my prep work, like the cooks during service, will be able to be successful. It all starts with me.— Alejandra Garcia
She has watched many employees come and go during her years at Rosemary’s and knows the power of a strong team. “If someone doesn’t want to work here, it’s always clear — and it’s stressful,” Garcias notes. “It’s important to hire people who want to work where they’ve been hired and who work well with other people too.” And working well with others requires clear dialogue, an essential element, says Garcia, of retaining staff. “It’s super important to be clear about communication, so the next person in the sequence is successful at their job,” says Garcia. “I like to know exactly what is expected of me and how to do it correctly. That way if my work is correct, the next person in line at the restaurant after my prep work, like the cooks during service, will be able to be successful. It all starts with me.”
A decade is a long time in hospitality work and during her time at Rosemary’s, Garcia has seen her daughter, Leslie, move to Miami to be a nurse and her son, Omar, work at Rosemary’s and go to school to be a chef. In addition to seeing her children grow up, Garcia has seen her coworkers grow. Thanks, in part, to her. “You should be prepared to teach when working at a restaurant,” she says. “Me gusta ayudar a la gente: I like to help other people.” That includes students who have externships at Rosemary’s. “They tell me I have lots of paciencia. I feel thankful that I have so much responsibility with them.”
Garcia’s bond with “salir adelante” is quite unshakeable. She still works many hours a day and a week, despite others reminding her she probably no longer needs to work as hard as she once did. “My mom is always telling me to relax and take time for myself now that my kids are older,” says Garcia, with a gentle chuckle “But I like to work — and I haven’t had good luck always. But now I do.”