While working in Cafe' Maxx in Pompano Beach Florida, Chef Kevin Roth decided to make his passion for cooking a career. At the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, in Hyde Park, NY, he absorbed the fundamentals of cooking, solidifying this interest he inherited from his mother. Kevin then traveled throughout the country working alongside renowned chefs such as Wolfgang Puck and Bradley Ogden. This experience led him to develop his own style which is always seasonally inspired and driven by local products (a concept first introduced to Kevin through Wolfgang Puck, one of the founders of New American-California Cuisine). Upon returning home to New York, Kevin Roth teamed up with Katy Sparks to open Quilty’s in Soho, which was an instant success. He then became the Executive Chef for Coup in the East Village meeting Idalia Garcia where she was working at a restaurant a few blocks away. Idalia and Kevin’s passion for food complimented each other. Kevin exposed Idalia to fine dining while Idalia introduced Kevin to many ethnic foods that make New York special. They started a life together.
9/11 many changes in the city. Kevin took a break from the day to day grind of being an executive chef. He became the private chef for the high profile couple Ellen Barkin and Ronald Perelman. Daily, Kevin created new dishes for the couple and their celebrity friends, adhering to their strict Kosher diet. The transition from working in restaurants to being chef to one was intense. After a year and a half, Kevin reentered the New York restaurant world. Kevin re-joined forces with Katy Sparks as Chef de Cuisine at Compass. During his time at Compass it was rated with 3 stars by The New York Post and The Daily News and voted Best new Restaurant by Zagat Survey. He then moved on to become the Executive Chef at One, in New York’s Meatpacking district, where he led a kitchen staff of 25 to execute a menu for the 250 seat restaurant. Here Kevin continued to receive acclaim and acknowledgement from the press and critics, even participating in a live cooking demonstration for CBS news. Meanwhile, Idalia Garcia was working for Cypress Hills Community Development Corporation and moonlighting at a Brooklyn restaurant in Williamsburg called Diner. At Diner, Idalia saw the joining of her two interests with the restaurant’s socially conscious ethics and participation in the slow food movement. Diner supported local farmers, purchasing and using their products in Diner’s ever-changing menu. She became general manager for Diner and their new restaurant Marlow and Sons.
Discovering Puerto Rico, again We (Idalia/Kevin) made it a ritual to come to Puerto Rico every year after the grueling NYC restaurant holiday season. Puerto Rico was a natural choice for us. My (Idalia) parents are from Puerto Rico and my childhood summers were spent on the island. Although in the states during the rest of the year, at our house (the Garcia’s) we ate rice and beans and drank cafe' con leche everyday. Kevin quickly became a part of the family and participated in our Christmas Eves of Pernil Asado and Pasteles. We would then fly to Puerto Rico for Kevin’s birthday which happens to fall on Three Kings Day and watch/hear the brigades of horses go by as we sat for Kevin’s celebratory Birthday dinner. It was on one of these trips that we happened on a “Se Vende” sign that peaked our interest. We (Kevin/Idalia) had always talked about doing this when we retired, but after informally shaking hands on a deal with the sellers, we found ourselves on a plane heading home to NY, still lightheaded from the major deal made while sipping on coquito. Three months later we packed up everything ours and moved to Fajardo, Puerto Rico to open La Estacion.