Chef-Inspired Healthy Cooking With Dallas’ Julian Rodarte
Julian Rodarte was born in 1993 in San Antonio. At the age of 2, the family moved to Dallas, where he still resides. His father, Beto, originally from Durango, Mexico, is a chef and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Julian and his two siblings were homeschooled by his mother for the entirety of their schooling. After cooking all day at work, Beto continued at home, preparing dinner every night, which was the highlight of the day for the family.
As a teenager, Julian had aspirations to play college football but multiple injuries and reconstructive surgeries forced him on another path. After earning a degree in communications, Julian decided to follow his father’s path to pursue a career in the culinary arts and enrolled in the CIA in San Antonio. It was during an internship at the Ritz-Carlton, Dallas, under the tutelage of celebrated chefs Dean Fearing and Chris Southwick, that this bright, young cook was bitten by the chef bug. Julian graduated in 2015 and began to work in R&D for Denny’s and CTI foods. It was here where Julian expanded his food science knowledge by developing sauces, dressings, and soups for corporate chain restaurants.
Just a year after graduation, Julian and his father were approached by Dallas entrepreneurs Phil Romano and Bob Sambol about opening a restaurant in Trinity Groves, a breeding ground for successful restaurants. “The last thing Dallas needed was another Mexican Restaurant. So our goal was to create a more millennial, Gen Z concept where every plate needs to be Snapchat- and Insta-worthy," Julian said.
By November 2016, Beto and Son opened for business. Father and son consider their cuisine to be “next-gen Mexican food.” They use locally sourced ingredients and domestic meats, offer hand-crafted cocktails, and use veggies to thicken all of the sauces. They strive to elevate the freshness of this very commercialized cuisine in the United States. “Our restaurant is a representation of our inviting family, and I'd love to expand all over the world to share our passion for friendship and food in this very fast-paced society,” Julian said.
Courtesy of Beto and Son.
The Daily Meal: How do you define healthy eating?
Julian Rodarte: I think healthy eating starts with being aware and educated in how food affects the human body. It's not just eating vegetables and fruit because they are healthy. Even fruits and vegetables can be high in sugars and fats and, if abused, can lead to problems regardless of how natural and organic they are. Health is a balance of diet, portion control, and exercise. We all must exercise discipline in all of these areas to remain healthy.
What is your secret to cooking healthier without sacrificing flavor?
I think the secret to delicious healthy food is understanding flavor profiles of healthy ingredients. If our knowledge of natural flavors is limited, we will have a limited ability to cook ingredients with flavor. Salsas and chimichurris are perfect examples of beautifully paired flavor profiles using healthy ingredients that are delicious. So many foods have natural sugars and big flavors that ingredients rarely need the added sugar that manufacturers use in commercialized products.
What is your favorite dish on your own menu and why?
The carnita noodle bowl. I think it sums the restaurant up in one dish. It starts with domestic pork shoulder that is prepared in house and rubbed down with spices like cumin, coriander, granulated garlic, onion, and pepper. We then braise it in orange juice for 12 hours until it shreds using a fork. The pork is placed on top of a bed of pasta that we roast dry to toast the starches and create that nutty toasted-starch flavor. We then hydrate the pasta in our chicken tortilla soup broth that we make using chicken bones to make our own chicken stock. We fill the bowl with fresh vegetables like zucchini, squash, bell peppers, and onions. And finish it with a chile de árbol sauce to bring all the rich, hearty, healthy flavors to life! It’s fresh comfort food that warms you up and makes you feel good about what you put in your body.
What is your culinary mantra?
“Whatever you cook, cook it so well that when people eat your food, they will want to come back and eat your food again, and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.” It’s a spin off something Walt Disney said. Or, “As chefs you have to ask yourself, how bad do you want to cook? Life and death are what cooking means to me.”
What else is going on in your world?
I regularly travel to Mexico and South America to build houses, schools, and orphanages for kids and families who need them. I have been traveling to Mexico and South America my whole life to do this. You always think you are going there to change the life of a family or person but when you get back you are the one changed.