Juan Garcia a.k.a The Tamale Guy is an extremely hardworking, passionate, and fun-loving man who has been cooking in some of Seattle’s most awarded restaurants for the past 5 years (Rock Creek, Bastille, Stoneburner, Toulouse Petit to name a few..). After 5 years of constantly working doubles, the 5AM shift, and never having weekends or holidays off, he decided he wanted to make his own work schedule, with his own culinary ideas, celebrating his cultural roots.
Juan met his wife, Lauren at Washington State University where he received a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Business Management while working full time in the WSU catering kitchen. Lauren has been working in restaurants and catering for the past 11 years and has had the pleasure of being Juan’s “tamale taster” throughout all of his tamale testing. You will often find her selling and making tamales with Juan as well.
Juan was born in Mexico, and spent his childhood in Quincy, WA. He grew up eating tamales, and other amazing dishes from his mother’s kitchen all his life (she makes the best molé you’ve ever had!). While living in Mexico in 2012, Lauren and Juan went to Juans tia’s house for a reunion with the family. They spent the entire afternoon helping Tia Femia make chicken tamales in banana leaves with all the ingredients coming from her property. She even picked coconuts for them and cut them open with a machete (what a woman!). They steamed the tamales in a giant pot over an open fire, and Juan immediately started feeling inspired to make his own tamales. Typically, tamales are served on Christmas or other big holidays and celebrations, due to the time and labor it takes to make them. Lauren and Juan never liked having to wait until Christmas for good authentic tamales, so now they make them. A lot of them.
Juans well-rounded cooking experience in different cuisines has urged him to elevate the tamal and make it his own. It’s not just a choice of chicken or pork tamales anymore…its flavor combinations you have never heard of in a tamal, sweet AND savory! You can truly taste the love and hard work in every bite. Always handmade, and always made fresh from the masa to the hand cut cabbage salad (repollo).