05 Mar HUNGRY for LIFE! Thriving after adversity with Eduardo Garcia!
My guest is Eduardo Garcia. Eduardo is chef, entrepreneur, filmmaker, outdoorsman and philanthropist. I came across this story when I was checking out this amazing video series by Yeti called “The Hungry Life.” I started to dig in and it took me down this amazing rabbit hole of inspiration and incredible stories. And great food too.
Listen To The Podcast:
Instagram: @chefeduardogarcia, @montanamex
Mitch: The short version is that he grew up in Montana hunting, hiking, exploring and at about the age of 15 started to work at local restaurants. He uncovered this love for creating amazing food. He went on to culinary school, wound up becoming a chef for the uber wealthy on yachts and in private homes, pretty cool. But after about 11 years he decided to come back home and launch a natural foods company called “Montana Mex” with his friends.
But around that same time tragedy struck and I want him to tell you the story himself. But needless to say he battled back from some incredible odds. And when you hear the story you will know exactly what I’m talking about. Incredible odds sells it short. But Ed not only survived but he’s thrived. He’s created this incredible life. He is truly living the epitome of the dream think do life. So I had to have him on. I can’t wait for this episode. So let’s get to this.
Mitch: Eduardo, welcome to DTD.
Eduardo: Hey Mitch, I’m excited to be here. I’m super ready.
Mitch: Exactly I love it. And you are sitting outside beautiful Bozeman, Montana where I used to live. So once I found that out I’m like oh my gosh… He’s got to be on dream think do. I just wanted to come to your house though and do the interview. So we’ll do that next week.
Eduardo: Next time.
Mitch: Yeah, exactly right. I love it. So you grew up in Montana. Did you grow up with a love for the outdoors or was that something that came on later in life?
Eduardo: Yeah. I think when we moved to Montana I was six years old and it’s kind of one of those things I think there’s nature and nurture and where I was living was mountains and four distinct seasons. Yellowstone River a stones throw away and it was my sandbox. So I had no other options nor did I know any better and then of course through programs like Boy Scouts of America and then your community and your friends and your peers, you grow up in the outdoors. You grow up skiing. You grow up hiking. You grow up fishing. You grow up. This is your hood. This is the peaks, the valleys, the streams, the meadows of the Rocky Mountain west.
Mitch: Yeah. And then you just dive in and have at it, right?
Eduardo: Yeah you have to. They always say to live in a place like Montana especially you know if you do not take advantage or engage with the outdoors in some way not only are you missing out on one of the greatest boons of being in a place like this geographically, but you’re probably going bonkers. Because there’s nothing to do here.
Mitch: Exactly right.
Eduardo: And I mean from an outdoors man’s perspective, I have a calendar that I call my recreational calendar and it’s every month of the year this is where my focus is from an outdoor perspective.
Mitch: And doing activities outside different types of activities and that kind of thing.
Eduardo: Yeah. You know snowboarding and snow sports, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, picking up antlers, mushroom foraging, fly fishing, floating the rivers to then hunting in the fall, putting the garden away, and then all of a sudden you’re back into winter and snow sports. So it’s like.
Mitch: Yeah I’ll never forget we lived out there for a number of years. We had a friend visit and he showed up on a Friday morning and that night my wife got home from work and I said, “What do you want to do?” and he’s like, “Well what do you guys want to do?”
I said,, “You want to go to the mountains. He’s like yes. And so we just went out to the truck and we got in our truck and we drove to the mountains. And everything was already loaded in our truck and then the next morning we hiked to this mountain peak and I said, “How are you doing?” He’s like, “Man, I’m mad.” I was like, “Why?” And he said, “I’ve had to plan all year to take the vacation you guys decided to take last night.”
Mitch: So it is. That’s just a beautiful aspect of Montana. So you’re a Montana kid. You’re enjoying the outdoors. You’re fly fishing, you’re hunting, you’re doing all of that. How do you start to become a chef? When did that start to become the dream for you?
Eduardo: Yeah, I think I realized at 14, 15 years old that the short of it is the first maneuver for me was realizing that there were no more coins in moms purse to nip when she wasn’t looking basically. And we were three miles from the gas station which was the convenient store. You could get veterinary supplies. You could get a lasso. You could get fish and tackle, hunting tags, or you could also get you know maybe some broccoli, some apples, bananas, some provisions for the house. And we would walk down there as kids to pick up Lemonheads and lollipops and candy in the summer. With 25 cents we’d go down and we’d get nickel candies. You get five each or whatever. And I realized mom’s got no money. And so we grew up working, shoveling driveways, catching trout and selling them for a couple bucks a bit, mowing lawns. But then as I turned 15 I said you know I want to get a job. And there’s a local resort. It’s an old mining town called Chico in Montana and it’s at the base of the Absaroka Bear Tooth Mountain Range. And nestled into the peaks and there’s a hot spring that comes out.
Eduardo: And so there’s sort of a bonafide hot springs resort there. And I applied for a job and you know all I was thinking I was not thinking I like to cook. I didn’t know how to cook. I wasn’t thinking anything other than that’s where every other kid in the valley goes to work. If you’re not working on a ranch in Paradise Valley in Montana, you’re not working on a ranch, you are working at Chico Hot Springs basically. And so yeah it was dishwasher, prep cook, cook. I was like well I’m not a cook. I don’t know what prep cook means. I want to be a dishwasher so I click and it turned into just a way to make money which turned into a way to keep me out of trouble, a way to keep me busy in the summertime and after school and I worked out of Chico for the most part for off and on for three years. But I cooked my way through high school. So that’s how it started was cooking through high school.
Mitch: And then went on to culinary school.
Eduardo: Went on to culinary. I even had this crutch, had move where it was had with your senior year and everyone else is already accepted to this college or that college and I knew I didn’t want to go to a four year school and I knew that if I just got my diploma from high school and walked off into the horizon I may never come back. I would be pleasantly lost into the world of recreational nirvana and bliss. I’d be rock climbing and fly fishing to my heart’s content. I knew I could probably find happiness in that. But there was something back here that just said that may be a hedonistic kind of approach there. That may make you happy and all but there’s probably more sustainable something out there. And yeah, and so I think culinary school floated across and I said oh what’s that mean. So it literally, there was a representative coming to our high school as the do to speak to juniors and seniors from all schools. And this was a trade show. The Art Institute Schools so there’s a handful of them around the U.S. And I heard culinary program and I thought no way. You can get a degree in cooking. Nobody told me that.
Mitch: Yeah, right, where was that information?
Eduardo: Yeah and so before you know it I looked at a few schools throughout the United States and I chose Seattle. And spent two years there getting my associates degree in the culinary arts and that was sort of my beginning of all right food is going to be, I’m investing in my student loans, I’m investing money, investing time, this is going to be my focus.
Mitch: Wow. Yeah, it just clicked. And that’s what I love. To talk with some people, they just knew from the beginning, from being six years old they knew what the dream was. Others had to uncover. They had to unwrap it, right? And that’s a little bit of yours is a little bit of both, but it’s that unwrapping aspect of it. Yeah.
Eduardo: Well and I should also say that to anyone listening that this is more of an unwrapping story than a just I have it.
Eduardo: So for me I’m usually all in almost immediately into anything that’s not going to kill me. The red flag consumes me then I know better in my right thinking mind to step away. But in this scenario I just I could just keep up with the tempo of a kitchen. I recognized over my high school cooking years that there was a creative right brain side of me that really enjoyed the painting part of it all, loved the physical dance of being in a kitchen. And so I just honestly just going with something that worked.
Eduardo: If I kicked ass here, it’s keeping me out of trouble, it’s putting money in my pocket. I got my first car. Like this was all very good.
Mitch: This is legit. This is coming together.
Eduardo: But I wouldn’t say that this was my dream yet.
Eduardo: This is what I was doing. This is what I was doing. It wasn’t what I was dreaming about yet.
Mitch: Yeah. And then but you went on to culinary school and that continued to confirm that or to go deeper into that then?
Eduardo: Yeah. So yeah I went to culinary school. It was a straight through 21 month program. Graduated and I was looking at paying back $32,000 of student loans six months from graduation. And I realized I’m working three jobs already. Those student loans on top of my overhead, I’m going to barely make it. And do I need to pick up a fourth job or do I need to apply with my degree to now be like not just a line cook but a sous chef. So I need to start working through the hierarchical chain of the kitchen. And that never appealed to me for whatever reason. I had friends going to work at the “W” and the Four Seasons. I knew inside here that it was just that’s not what was calling to me. And as sometimes it happens I am a big fan of just dream big. Like throw the biggest, biggest, biggest dreams out onto the wall every day and then start to move towards them, start to migrate. Throw an anchor out there and then start pulling yourself back into that and I knew I was enjoying cooking. I didn’t know where it was going to take me but I wanted to just see what happened.
Eduardo: And there was a yacht in Seattle that had fired their chef for whatever reason and they needed a chef. And they contacted the school and the school gave them my name. I did an interview and I actually and there’s a good lesson here in no matter how attractive something is, you know if there’s any part of your truer self that believes not now because for me I was working at Japanese restaurant learning a ton and I had this yacht chef job interview come up. And I realized I’ve only been in this Japanese at this restaurant for four months. I don’t think my cup’s full here. I don’t think I’ve learned everything I have to learn here. And there’s this amazing opportunity, I think I have to say no to that. So I did. I stayed with my current employer, Soto’s Japanese Café. That experience taught me a love affair I had for perfectionism for poetry like the Haiku of food. It was so fundamental for me. I needed that full eight months or nine months there.
Eduardo: And sure enough the same yacht called me back in October, “Hey Eduardo, Captain Mark Derulo, Yacht Dorothea, we’re looking for a chef again. You got a week. Let me know.” I could almost hear this is the last time you’ll be at the top of the list. What am I supposed to do? I said all right.
Mitch: I’m in.
Eduardo: I’m in this time.
Mitch: I love that and I think listening to that voice is key even when sometimes you’re like oh but it’s right here. It’s on a platter. It’s like well no. And I think also discerning whether that’s just straight up fear or whether that’s wisdom. And you were listening and heard wisdom. And maybe a little bit of fear too. But you know it’s that. So I love it. So you did that for a number of years and.
Eduardo: Ten years.
Mitch: Ten years. On that yacht or on that type of, with that type of component?
Eduardo: No ten years with a handful of different clients. Yeah I mean I worked on sail boats. I worked on small boats. I worked on larger 160 foot boats. I tended to try and stay on boats where, how do I word it, boats where I felt there was a cooperative element that the crew were invested in the family, the owners and their family’s experience, the owners were invested in the crew and that without the crew nothing happens. I found myself only a couple times in jobs that were truly clock in clock out type jobs where there was no heart and soul and I immediately pulled out of those. Overall though what a career, what a phenomenal experience.
Mitch: I can only imagine. And what a way to do it. I mean gosh that’s incredible. So all right, so I want to transition because I want to talk about Montana Mex but in the middle though I also want to talk about this thing that I referenced in your introduction. This just incredible experience, challenge. I mean I don’t even know what the word is but so walk us through what happened when you were back home. You were hunting.
Eduardo: Yeah, so maybe I’ll keep it short but I want to make sure to tee this up properly.
Eduardo: For everybody. So I spent ten years as a chef in the yachting industry, traveling the world. When I told friends and business partners and family that I was leaving the yachting industry to pursue other things prior to saying well what other things. They were just like are you nuts.
Mitch: You’re leaving this?
Eduardo: And it’s true. It was a job where I have seen so many people stay in the industry of yachting and just do so well for themselves. And one of the things I realized is I kind of require a certain amount of high that comes from being challenged, begin scared, adrenaline, endorphins. I kind of require stimulus in my life in order to be engaged and all in. And I realized that I was no longer passionate about the work I was doing on the yacht. And I loved being in Puerto Fino in the summer. I loved being in Saint Tropez for Christmas. I loved being surfing open point breaks in Costa Rica. That was amazing don’t get me wrong. But at some point, so here we go. So I was in the yachting industry that I landed on my dream. I wasn’t just doing anymore. The doing wasn’t getting me off anymore. Like I realized that I was dreaming about something different than my current reality.
Eduardo: And it basically you know I recognized I was working so intimately with a tight ten person, five person, twenty person crew all day, every day sleeping, working in the same spot. I realized that food was influential well beyond the elemental priceless quality of keeping us alive. That’s not important enough, it’s important. But there’s more to it. There is some unspoken intangible aspect of nutrition and food that is the common thread for humans across the board and I recognized that through making favorite dishes for people going through sorrow and loss. I realized that it wasn’t just filling their belly. It was embracing them.
Eduardo: This is powerful. So I started thinking. So like I was just doing, then I started dreaming, then I started thinking like okay so like I am no longer passionate about the ten. But I do about the one. So as crazy as it sounds I think I need to reach out to millions of people with my love of food. How do I do that? And it was actually through my partner at the time, my ex girlfriend Jenny Jane who with my family, with my older sister, my twin brother that the ideas for my next ventures came up. So when I told my yacht owner, when I told my boss like hey I’m leaving he was like well what are you doing. What are you talking about?
Eduardo: And I was like well I want to start a national food brand called Montana Mex and I want to pitch an outdoor coking show to networks and there in find this larger audience in this greater stage to influence others and truly do what I’m supposed to do here on earth which is bring joy and complete nutrition to the eating and food experience. And he’s like wait what.
Mitch: You’re just not going to another job. Oh. It’s much bigger than that.
Eduardo: Yeah, he’s like what are you doing.
Eduardo: And so I showed him. I was like well here’s the business plan. And here’s a filmed four minute sizzle reel that we’re prepping to send to networks even though we don’t know anyone in networks. And that was kind of that transition. That was the beginning of that.
Mitch: Wow. So that stuff you were really kind of working that on the side. You were thinking through that. You were talking with your friends, your family about it. And then when it finally, you just knew that it was just time to finally say okay this is it.
Eduardo: That’s right. So we’re teeing up anyone listening into the day that radically changed my life. So thank you getting me back to that. So after ten fulfilling years in 2008 I realized I needed more. I wanted to do more with food. So we started building out the plan for Montana Mex, started gathering content for a show called Active Ingredient at the time. And in March, April 2011 I gave my notice. And with the blessing and support of the boss, the owner of the yacht. He said well I’m not losing you. I invested seven years into you. He came on as a silent partner to support the vision. And with Jenny Jane we went out and got signed by William Morris Endeavor, picked up a production partner out of Denver Citizen Pictures who is doing like Diners, Drive ins, and Dives with Guy Fieri and with Giada de Laurentis. They were doing stuff in culinary, very well known so out of no where I’m this chef and I know nothing about film and production. All of a sudden signed with WME. All of a sudden have a production company on my side. Whoa, this is happening.
Eduardo: And then at the same time for the last two years we’ve been developing recipes for what we wanted to do originally was a farmer’s market and store front brand where we were doing fresh America’s favorite Latinos foods but without preservatives, fresh. So salsas, guacamole, tamales, things like that. And fast forward to October 9 of that same summer everything is going gang busters.
Mitch: Everything. Everything, everything happening. It’s all coming together so fast. Yeah.
Eduardo: You thought about it, now you’re doing it. You’re executing. And we had a meeting with the Food Network scheduled for October 17 and October 11 I take a day off to go hunting. And I am three miles from my truck in the back country foot hills, maybe 6000, 7000 feet and I see a rusty can in a tight steep hilled little drainage up at beeline. Like up in the trees of the foothills of this mountain. And when I go close to the can to check it out, you know the rocky mountain west is filled with old mining stuff, old stuff, and it’s not uncommon to stumble across these relics of man but also to see natural tokens of the natural world. Feathers, antlers, fur, bones, fossils. So I go to investigate and there’s a scrap of fur in the bottom of the can, looks like a misplaced toupee.
Mitch: And you’re probably thinking like what is the story behind this.
Eduardo: Only briefly. I’m hunting. I’m on my way to somewhere. I’ve got an appointment with an elk. I’ve got an appointment with dinner somewhere here. But I check it out and I pull a knife off of my hip and I put it in my left hand because I can see a few claws in the fur. And I’m like oh keychain or you know I’m a boy scout and do work with a good friend of mine with community to inspire the next generation so we hold natural classes sometimes. And I’m like well I’ll bring this back to the kids in the community and show them what a bear claw looks like, a baby black bear claw. And went in to remove that claw and just was engulfed in heat, pressure, frequency at like a symphonic level throughout my entire being and good night. Eyes close.
Eduardo: That was my final memory of sort of the first major chapter of my life.
Mitch: And basically that can was connected to.
Eduardo: So that chapter, that curtain closed, the episode of my life closed by a 2400 volts of live power that arced from the base of that can into the knife I was holding. I had both hands in the can and yet the power arced to the metal that was in my left hand. And went in through my left hand, exited nine different places of my body, and lights out. To this day I think I may have been out for I don’t know how many minutes. I’ve tried piecing it back together. I recall my eyes opening up in the act two of my life. And seeing clouds scuttling past with blue sky, tree tops, and recognizing I am on my back. I think I’m in the woods. Why am I on my back? Get to your feet and I rolled over. I remember it being very challenging. If anyone’s ever been in that dream where you’re trying to fight your way out of a wet appear bag and you should be able to but you’re stuck in bubble gum, you can’t move. That’s what it was like. Just it was so lethargic and slow and pixelated just trying to get to my feet and get back into mobility.
Eduardo: And then again it was like a curtain close moment where I don’t remember walking out from that site. I recall my memory comes back to me even to this day. And I have been back to that location a few times but my memory comes back truly to the sound of gravel under my feet and the whistle of the western meadowlark bird, the Montana state bird. And then my eyes open and I see the valley in front of me, below me, the river a far off town, Gardner, Montana and I recognize okay I’m walking. I know where I am. I’m in Corbin Springs area, Montana. Okay. Why am I walking? What am I doing? Was I hunting today? I think I was hunting today. Where’s all my stuff? And I look around and I realize that my hand, my left arm is up against my body and the animal calls that you use when hunting to call in an elk are hanging on lanyards or necklaces and I’m noticing this on myself.
Eduardo: Somehow in the part of my life that I don’t remember I’ve made a sling and my arm is in this sling, these call necklaces and that this hand, my right hand is holding bear spray and I’m walking down the road.
Mitch: Oh my gosh. That’s incredible. You’re three miles from your truck. You’re at least three miles from.
Eduardo: And yet I am three miles from help and I am walking the right direction on a road that I found with bear spray. I’m in bear country. So somehow in this moment of time in my act two, in this chunk of my life that I have yet to be able to remember I made a sling for myself, I pulled out my bear spray and I got myself onto a road pointed the right direction. We are born to survive, Mitch. We as humans, we do not come out of the womb asleep. We come out of the womb kicking and screaming and ready for whatever. And I think largely we fall asleep at the wheel of our own life sometimes and we forget that. And yet in that moment I was reborn. And I was kicking and screaming and finding my way back to help.
Mitch: And it was a fight. It was a fight to walk out of there but it was also you were in for a long haul. How long were you in the hospital?
Eduardo: 50 days.
Mitch: So you got life flighted to Seattle was it?
Eduardo: Yeah so I made it to a home. They called 911. I made it to a house down the valley. They called 911. I got onto a med jet. Was life flighted to Salt Lake City.
Mitch: Salt Lake City, okay.
Eduardo: And was in the U burn center, the University of Utah burn center for burn ICU for like 48, 50 days.
Mitch: And when the doctor saw you come in, how did he describe you?
Eduardo: A bag of bones with a heartbeat.
Eduardo: Yeah. Super sobering, right?
Mitch: And you got some tough news. I mean we have the video going but for those who can’t see you, you had some sobering news just days later in order to save your life what did they have to do?
Eduardo: Yeah, in order to, it was my choice and yet the doctors basically said there’s an infection in my left hand was so tore apart by the entry point of that high voltage, not only did I have nine other exit wounds but this one injury which raced down my forearm was so severe that there was, you could smell the infection from the hallway. My room smelled of decay. And they were like look man, you may want to save it however the infection concerns us to the point that we think it could run up your arm. It’s 18 inches from your heart right now, 20 inches. And that’s pretty close for comfort. That’s a little too close. And I remember it was on a Saturday and I was I don’t even need to hear anymore. I knew that I had just barely survived so many moments in the last 24 hours or the last five days where I could have died that to be stabilizing other than this one part of my body that was [inaudible 00:30:21], if that could kill me. I just said I’m ready. Like when can we do this.
Eduardo: And they’re like easy tiger. It’s Saturday. Surgery, maybe Monday. And it was like I mean it was one of those things you know you know. I knew.
Mitch: Wow. So in the midst of all that good stuff and the midst of you like full scale 120 mile an hour going towards these series of dreams, big time detour.
Eduardo: Oh a beat down. Beat down and what’s core to remember and this is when one person suffers a loss in a community we gravitate towards community and why I believe in community is that we are picked up by our people. And yet although my community rallied from all over the world. I mean not just my yachting family from parts everywhere in the world sending in love and support, but my immediate family just a crew of ninjas got just into it like what are we doing. Just no questions asked. Of course, and yet it was so that the caregiving aspect, right? It was no question that we just had to do this. But everybody was on board and it’s just such a shout out right here right now to anyone listening that’s been there for someone else that’s gone through hell. It affects everybody.
Eduardo: It affects everybody big time. And kudos to the caregivers out there who are often unsung heroes.
Mitch: Yeah. Absolutely. Well that’s I was going to ask you, I mean it’s one of those that for you to get yourself up in the mountains and to walk and find some help and all of those things, that in some ways in and of itself miraculous, right? But also the aspect of then keeping yourself going all of those days in the hospital in the recovery after. What were some of those things? Obviously the people around you played a huge role in that. What else would you say, especially for that person that’s maybe gotten hit, maybe not in the same exact way, but they felt like they’ve taken a pretty monster hit. What were some of those ways that you stayed with it? Because here some of your dreams probably seemed as far away as they had ever seemed. How did you stay with it?
Eduardo: Yeah, we can learn a lot I believe from our younger selves that have never been defeated, that have never been influenced by outside influences to think twice about our natural ability or natural interest to thrive and survive. And something about an event like this, it knocks the calcium right back off in a way. When shit hits the fan, we as humans, I don’t have a degree in psychology any of this so this is just me throwing it out there guys, but I think we are born to thrive. I think we are born to achieve to the ultimate level and yet we are just beat down all the time by our own, we onboard all this junk everyday that ends up convincing us that we cannot be such amazing things. And yet when you get knocked down to square one so there’s almost like a beautiful ignorance that happens where you don’t know any better. So I had not idea that I would be diagnosed with cancer in all of this.
Eduardo: I would have no idea what life was like as an amputee. I would have no idea what recovery would look like. I just knew that I recognized in ICU that I can witness, you know when you spot someone checking you out and they don’t know you can spot them or when you’re looking at someone in a moment where you know they are in their own world and they don’t know you’re looking at them. There was a lot of that. Because you were the patient. So all the attention was on you. And I think a lot of folks aren’t, a lot of the caregivers and nursing and professional team they’re not used to people looking at them. And I did a lot of looking and I realized like wow not only is this care team given twelve hour shifts every day, sometimes more, my family is living, you know, Jenny Jane slept in a recliner for 50 days next to my bed. My entire family lived there for the entire duration and I realized that although I was bandaged head to toe, although all the focus was on me, I could still contribute.
Eduardo: I had value. And I could be a part of my own recovery. And so that was huge for me. So I often try and share that story with people going through hell because the patient must participate to their best degree possible. So even if when I was splinted head to toe and I couldn’t even scratch my own nose, let alone other things, I could thankfully I could grin or I could smile or I could just use my eyeballs and just try and shout out to those around me I am here. I am fighting. I believe and thank you for believing and we can do this. And you know as flowery as that may sound, that was one of the most powerful things that I used in the short term was just the believing that we could do this. Believing that we were going to survive.
Mitch: That’s amazing. Well and knowing just even a little bit more about your life since then it seems like that’s been the approach that you’ve taken in act two throughout.
Eduardo: 100% for the most part. And I look forward to further the third end of this conversation. But thank you very much. That doesn’t mean that it’s inspiring to remember these moments that were eight years ago now with you and yet my life now is largely influenced by that rebirth but for the most part I’m back into my life. I’ve been working on the company. I’ve been working on a family. I’m working on my dreams. I’m trying to walk this earth and times get tough again still. It’s that end of my life has served as such a terrific reminder that when I get stressed or anxious now hey man, you’ve been there before. You’ve been through some tough stuff before. You can do this.
Mitch: And that thing, that is the beauty of and that’s one of the things with dream, think, doers they know we want to inspire each other but we also shoot straight with each other. And in order to pursue a dream it doesn’t mean it’s all rainbows and butterflies and little ponies. This is tough stuff. But that’s the sweet stuff too, right? It’s that whole thing. But you do have to choose.
Eduardo: Well dreaming is free. Dreaming in unlimited. Dreaming is stratosphere type stuff. It’s whatever you want. And then of course I always say I have like a three point acton plan which is dream real big, go nuts, like no one is watching. Go nuts. And then communicate and then share your dream with your people, your tribe or anybody on a subway. Someone at the gym sweating next to you in inferno Pilates. Like just share your dream. Share your dream with them. So dream big, communicate, and then collaborate.
Eduardo: And then you will find other people that resonate the same way you do that want to add kindling to your fire and then you end up building a bon fire. And that’s how things take off for sure.
Mitch: I love it. I love it. Well, let’s transition to act three because I want to hear Montana Mex which I just got some by the way if you’re not close to a grocery store that sells it, I found it on Amazon. Which is fantastic. So it just showed up an hour before this interview so we’re going to cook with it tonight. But okay so you have the experience in the hospital. Things starting to change. Like you did you just threw in you also got diagnosed with cancer during that time which also blew my mind when I heard that. So this was not a quick fix. This was a haul. At what point did you say okay it’s time to get back to those dreams? It’s time to get back to Montana Mex. It’s time to get back to the TV show idea. Was that hard? Was that tentative?
Eduardo: No. Well, yes and no. But so we I say we but collectively the company, my older sister Indra, Jenny Jane business partner and caregiver they started rebuilding the business plan for Montana Mex while I was in ICU. So they were both handling that. Working on hey okay I think we want to be I national food brand with shelf stable products, not just a farmers market local brand. Again, we wanted impact on a big scale. The farmers market is a continuation of the yacht. It was like blood, sweat, tears smaller footprint. We wanted to share the credit with everybody.
Mitch: Let’s reach them. Yeah.
Eduardo: And so really they never stepped off the gas pedal. And yet my family and friends and we had one hire, one employee and they gave me the opportunity, they gave me the latitude to really recover. And at some point though months later, I was back in the kitchen doing what I could do. And you know doing what I could do I’m fortunate, Mitch. Like I’m walking, jumping, talking, screaming, I’m out there. I’m mobile. And there’s a lot of folks who had an electrical injury like mine who first of all don’t even make it off the fourth floor. I mean it’s ended, that’s end, curtain call, 2400 volts. So the fact that I only lost ten inches off my left arm and chunk of my left thigh and other four of my ribs, I say only because you know what it’s true. I owe individuals who are burn trauma amputees electrical victims who are missing all of their limbs. So I got back into the physical game pretty quickly and really it took a few years to find traction again though really with the business, really with the wanting to go pursue a career as a celebrity chef to be influential in how we eat and how we view food.
Eduardo: So now we’re 2018, and I would say 2015 our line Montana Mex was selling on home shopping network but just starting to pick up our first grocery accounts and HEB in Texas and other places. And 2015 was really when we, I was back in my role as the chef of R&D, spokesperson on the board and working with the team again to do my job.
Mitch: So it took some time.
Eduardo: Yeah. Took years. And I just want to call myself out here for everyone is that it’s not, there’s was a certain amount of that that was the physical recovery, but there was a certain amount of it that was also linked to emotion, the emotion recovery and I didn’t know it then what I whistle blew, what I blew the whistle on I was taking hall passes. Not because I needed them but because I was like oh this is great. I can say for the hundred time in a row I’m going to go hiking today. And not answer my emails or not engage in the business and no one’s going to touch me because they’re like holy smokes Eduardo has been through hell.
Eduardo: We can’t. At some point you recognize that you’re being selfish and you’re not contributing and that’s not a good feeling I don’t think for anybody.
Eduardo: Like realize I don’t need to be.. I am not purposing. I am not acting in purpose right now. I am not being purposeful and I’m hurting myself here. So time to get to work. A little of that that happened too.
Mitch: And that’s healthy to recognize. There’s a lot of folks that either don’t want to recognize that or just can’t recognize that. But to recognize that I’m sure was freeing and liberating but not easy.
Eduardo: No it took years.
Mitch: Exactly. So that’s amazing. So now you’ve got Montana Mex and then you’re also you’ve done some amazing different video projects. Plus you’ve got a movie about this whole experience called “Charged.” Dude, you’ve been busy.
Eduardo: Yeah, thank you. I need that reminder because there’s times right now where I okay New Years day I don’t know when this is going to go live, so whenever anyone’s listening on the day I want to reference is just a few weeks ago, New Years day 2019 I was sipping coffee with my fiance in our home and we didn’t really know what we were going to do but most of the world’s trying to take the day off I guess if they can. And I’m sipping coffee at 10:00 AM and I look at her and I say you know what, I am going to crush that pile of papers, those boxes of papers that are in the spare bedroom. My junk and I was opening wedding invitations from 2013, bills from 2014. I burned and threw out 30 pounds of documents and stuff. And it was so cathartic. It was so, oh my gosh it felt so good to get rid of so many of those records and it was also like it was a moment where I got to realize like you are no longer, you don’t need to be attached to that baggage man. You don’t need to.
Eduardo: Having that around, sitting in that room eyeballing me from the corner every single day of hey we’re the thing that you failed to do. We’re all of your junk mail. Like come on. I needed to step away from that and I needed to wake up in the now in 2019 and say all right well what am I doing. I need to forgive all of that and I need to step into who am I in 2019. And I’m all in on Montana Mex. Montana Mex has the ability to change the game for everybody’s in the United States let alone the larger audience if you eat food. This brand has the ability to change how we do that. All right, I need to do that again. And you know what, TV show, still working on it. Producing great content with Yeti coolers launched August of last year. It’s called, “Hungry Life.” Go YouTube it. Please check it out.
Mitch: It is amazing. It’s flipping gorgeous. But the spirit of it, the footage is amazing. But the spirit of it, dream think doers are just going to love it. So yes, Hungry Life, hit it up on YouTube. Join the millions that are already enjoying it. So yeah. Big time. I guarantee you brother, you’re going national. Like this is one of those you’re a humble dude and I appreciate that but you’re going to be a household name and I think that so much of this is being prep for that. Like you go to
Eduardo: Mitch, I’m going to take that. I’m going to take that and I’m going to say thank you and to that point I was with a friend recently in the new year and he said something. And took sparks, I keep talking about sparks that fly and they catch a tinder bundle within you. And that fire starts. And I believe, so we took the concept called active ingredient and that was the outdoor show title in 2011. And then we changed it to “A Hungry Life,” when we launched the same concept with the idea. And it’s basically just about adventure, recreating food being the core and part of any adventure. Food is this must have, must do, must be respected, must loved part of our lives that is kind of turned into a commodity maneuver. And yet it is your complexion right now. It is me. It is the smile on my face that I had a huge brown rice kale roast chicken lunch at the co op after inferno Pilates. Like food is our story man. And yet my mom said it, my mom she’s like a hard core beautiful strong smart Jewish new yorker. Not afraid to say her mind.
Eduardo: And she said, “Eddie, I would just wonder if this experience for you offered you a sense of humility that will only polish you moving into the future.” This was something you needed. And so my friend mentions a time he took a vacation and was inspired to do something charitable and did something charitable on his vacation in Thailand just out of the blue. Took 24 hours of his vacation to just make a difference in Thailand. And I thought you know what the concept hungry life of going out and recreating and showing this beautiful expose of what an adventure based around food could be. What about if that was morphed with this dynamic other element where bringing food and that meal to not just you and your buddies on an adventure in Costa Rica surfing, but let’s find a community that also needs a desalination water filtration set up. Let’s build a charitable aspect into this show concept and make it really about influence. And again it’s this dream, think, do that has been a part of me since forever.
Eduardo: Like I got this good idea and then all of a sudden it can only be better and so.
Mitch: Right. Where it’s something like that too you’re inviting the audience to be a part of a movement. Like that’s the hungry life where you’re on the beach in Costa Rica with your buddies and you’re hunting in the mountains of Montana. It’s a beautiful thing and like it wouldn’t even have to be an either or. It could be a both and to be able to say and some of the episodes or part of the episode is then going and helping somebody that needs it also with that food or water or whatever it is connection. Man, I love that. I think that’s awesome. And I also think the people that would be, because the Hungry Life as I’m watching these I’m just captivated they’re so beautifully shot. But I love the voice over. I love the theme of it, the heart of it, all that. It’s so much more than just an outdoor show. And it’s so much more than just a cooking show. There’s so much heart to it and beauty to it that I think the people that would be drawn in to that show would also be so drawn in it would be that of well of course we want to help with a water filtration system.
Mitch: Or of course we want to help that village in Haiti that’s coming back and wants to be self sustaining. That kind of stuff. I just think it’s like such a connection.
Eduardo: So well here’s the thing is I agree. It’s worth doing. And I’m kind of at that place where that is going to become daily review. It is going to become prerequisite for anything that I’m doing. So I don’t need a network to buy it. If I’m on vacation, if I’m taking these adventures, I want to invite the right people, the right friends. Anyone listening right now, you’ve got a good idea, hit me up. Say hi to me and I want to go on a surf trip to Bali but I also want to take a couple days of that trip and know that there’s no greater high for me and I’ve recognized this than knowing that not only have I done the Mai Tai on the beach and full of my selfish little cup. But I’ve also I’ve poured my cup out for others. And hungrier to go refill it. We said it earlier in this podcast that that what you have to work hard for, that which you’re going to sweat and stretch for flexes you as the muscle and therefor you grow back stronger. You become more oxygenated through that movement. We have to flex these muscles.
Mitch: Yeah. And it’s like you said obviously you in act two, act one to act two had an incredible wake up call. And it was kind of forced upon you. And others have had maybe it’s not the exact same experience but they’ve had that punch to the gut. They’ve had that huge step back. They’ve had that challenge and that helped to wake them up. But sometimes we have to choose that for ourselves to wake up and say wait what do I want this life to be like. What do I want to be in this life. And that’s I think that’s a part of that dream think do life man. That’s what you’re living. That is the hungry life. That’s why I love the name of it too. It’s like oh my gosh. It is so much about food but it’s also what do I want to have in me. What do I want to put out in the world and who do I want to surround myself as we do that. So dude, that’s so awesome. Oh my gosh. Well we could keep talking for hours. I’m just going to have to have you come back and all that.
Mitch: But I’m saying right now that I’m glad we had this conversation for dream, think, do now because it’s going to blow up, dude. It’s going to, you’re going to be a household name and I’m going to be like yeah he was on dream think do 2019. Check it out. So it’s like everybody’s going to know you but it’s what’s beautiful about it is you’re ready. Like this challenge, all of that, it’s a beautful thing.
Eduardo: I’m in the collaboration phase. So I often believe that we know our own truths when we take time to kind of appraise and audit our own selves. Like what am I, what do I want, what are my dreams. But a friend reminded me of it over the holidays. I said, “Well what are you up to? How’s life?” He’s like, “You know what I’m working on managing my dreams.” I was like whoa. I love that. And it’s the collaboration part. So right now I’m in that phase where I’m 37 years old and I feel like I’m in the second chapter of next best life and it’s trying to onboard team members not as check in check out team members but like team whereby they are onboard because they believe and they want to be part of something. I’ve been so grateful to be influenced by some terrific family and non family mentors who I’ve seen them. They had a nanny. Then they moved out. The nanny stayed with their parents. Their parents passed. Then those kids that are now in their 50s took care of the nanny until was with the family for 60 years type of thing.
Eduardo: And that’s community building. And so right now I’m really working on taking our company Montana Mex and building it into a community, into a community base and opportunity for anybody out there in the United States that’s looking for an honest trustworthy and uplifting food experience Montana Mex is there for you. Sorry Jeff Basos but just go to Montanamex.com.
Mitch: There it is.
Eduardo: And then get it all. Thing like the documentary, “Charged.” That wasn’t planned. That just came up. So through charged through being open, through owning my experience and saying this is what I’m here for. I’m ready to party. I’m excited about all of this and I want to be told no that’s not how you do it but let me help you. Let me be a part of this dream with you. To just dream on your own is great but it’s not the high. The high is when you have everybody coming into the [inaudible 00:55:24].
Mitch: I mean that’s what makes it richer anyway, right? Like we could do it by ourselves but that’s what makes it richer anyway. So I love it, man. I love it. So what’s one last, we always love to ask for what’s one last wisdom of the week especially for that person that’s maybe like oh my gosh, I so needed this. I love Ed’s story. I love what he’s doing. What’s that one last thing we want to offer them as we’re wrapping this thing up? Maybe a piece of advice somebody gave you or something you want to say to the dream think doers as we’re coming to the end here.
Eduardo: Yeah, be kind to yourself. Just take the time, take a moment, take some time to look at yourself, hug yourself, love yourself, look at that inner person that is here to do amazing things. Get disruptive in your own space. Send the ripple effect out to other around you. Watch it come back to you. Ripple, upon ripple upon ripple turns into a wave. Get into that with your team. Figure out who you’re crew is. And let’s start by just saying who am I. Dream really big and then think about it, do it, communicate it, get it out there.
Mitch: I love it, man. I’m looking forward to having you back. Thanks so much for taking time. I appreciate it. And what’s the best way for people to find you? We’ll have it all in the post as well, but what’s the best way for people to find you on the internet?
Eduardo: Yeah go to if you’re on Instagram go to @chefEduardogarcia. Go to @montanamex. And or just go to my website chefEduardo.com. Say hello. Tell me what you’re up to. If you’re cooking with Montana Mex I want to know about it. I want to see pictures of it. That’s why I did this. The company is for you. It’s not just for me. It’s for all of us.
Mitch: That’s awesome. Thanks, man.
Eduardo: Yes sir. Thanks for having me, Mitch.
Mitch: All right dream think doer how about you. What’s it about to you? What’d you like about Eduardo’s story? Leave a comment below and let me know!
Michele GuardinoPosted at 02:38h, 19 January
I just watched Charged last night and thought my gosh this guy ( who has a great smile) has been through so much and amazingly has such a great attitude….how? While watching it I thought about myself …I too went through a life changing injury this year (as well as some in between ) let’s just say 2019 just about did me in. I am not 30 years old but will be 62 in June and you just don’t bounce back very quick at this age….so I’m sure I’m going to run out of space …just wanted to say he inspired me to keep going and live my life …move forward . Excellent movie and I believe I was meant to see it….thank you Eduardo ❣
Mitch MatthewsPosted at 10:32h, 20 January
So great to hear you resonated with Ed’s story Michele! It is incredible! Glad to hear it’s inspiring you!