cook's tour

by Betsy Thaggard

David Garrido, Fresh Planet

Jeffrey's and Fresh Planet: What could these two restaurants possibly have in common?

Jeffrey's exemplifies the best of Austin gourmet food, offering a constantly changing array of upscale, multifaceted entrees. Fresh Planet at Whole Foods is quick, affordable food for those who care about what they put into their bodies.

As it happens, the two restaurants share Executive Chef David Garrido, who's responsible for creating the menus at each place. Both sites also share a commitment to quality and freshness. As a high-profile supporter of local farming, especially organic farms, Garrido puts his menus where his mouth is, so to speak.

Fresh Planet Pesto Chicken with Pico

Fresh Planet Pesto Chicken with Pico
(click picture for recipe)

Jeffery's Chef David Garrido at Fresh Planet

The last time we interviewed Garrido, he dazzled us by creating a smashing summer pasta salad, based on the freshest vegetables he could find at the Farmers' Market. This time, he's back with a year-round Fresh Planet recipe that lends itself to all kinds of culinary creativity ...and shines as a quick, complete meal.

"At Fresh Planet, we emphasize Asian and Mexican flavors because the two work together so well," he says. "Our menu is about 90 percent produce-based. No preservatives or food from cans. We use only natural meats and fish."

"And we avoid eggs, cream, and butter." This, from the wizard of Jeffrey's? You bet. Versatility is the sign of a great chef.

Want to learn more about Garrido's way around a kitchen? In April, Chronicle Books will publish his cookbook "Nuevo Tex-Mex," written with Robb Walsh. Meanwhile, check out the wealth of chef's tips about shopping and preparation that link up to this article.

Fresh Planet sign

Photography by Robyn Eden