Catching Up With Lisa Garza in Dallas

It’s hard to believe that the good old days of covering celebuchefs were those in the spring of 2008. That’s when Lisa Garza was a contestant on The Next Food Network Star.

For better or worse, many of us were captivated by her over-the-top effort to get her own TV show. (If you’d like to relive the glory, this post covers the day  SideDish popped The Food Network for accidentally revealing of the winner on a promo. Nasty comments warning. If you want more,pour another cup of coffee and type Garza in SideDish search window.)

I like Lisa Garza. She’s a fighter on and off the camera.  Lisa took a beating while she was on the Next Food Network Star and she lost more than her own TV show when NFNS ended. I caught up with her yesterday.

Jump for the interview.

NN: It seems like you’ve taken a sabbatical from the limelight.

LG: Being exposed to 8 million critical viewers is a lot to process. The one-two punch of national television and a public divorce from my mentor of 17 years sent me spiraling into self isolating survival mode. Watching myself be edited into a one dimensional, inaccurate caricature and enduring some pretty vicious commentary, made me seriously contemplate; who am I and who do I want to be moving forward from this experience.  I have taken the last 24 months to rest, relocate and redefine myself and my catering company.

NN: Why do you think you attracted so many haters?

LG: I did everything I could to hold up under the indescribable pressure without compromising my craft, my clients or my city. That’s the million dollar question that will break your heart every time, why? People love to hate. Hate is a secondary emotion. Something about me threatened the “haters”. Isn’t that what causes hate in any situation, ignorance and fear? I’ve come to realize it doesn’t matter. I know who I am and the people who matter do too. The sad thing is, they don’t hate me, they hate the character I was made into for ratings. Lesson one in “reality”- Diva’s don’t dedicate their lives to serving in aprons.

NN: You’ve always been vocal when it comes to children’s nutrition. Is your son on board with you?

LG: Well, he is currently sporting a size 27/34 men’s pant…. So, I guess, yes, tall and thin seems pretty healthy. We indulge in the occasional hot wing, fried chicken, and French fries. I was born in Memphis, comfort is comfort. It just can’t be a life style without serious consequences. We avoid processed and refined foods. I believe in real food. Processed food has no life force left in it. It doesn’t matter what you do, any expert will say the same thing, you are what you eat.

NN: What about a new food show? Every time someone reports a “Lisa Garza Sighting,” there is a camera crew around you.

LG: I am currently under contract for a new food show…..That’s all I can say.

NN: I understand you are doing a lot of catering.

LG: I have partnered with my long time collaborator, Lauren Smith, a fashion design graduate from North Texas, to create Lisa Garza- Taste Studio and Event’s. Taste Studio doesn’t just cater events. We produce an experience that combines fine dining quality food and service with one of a kind designer uniforms, costumes and linens. My new event space is launching at Southside on Lamar this fall!

NN: Are you still involved with Suze?

LG: My son and Suze are the two most amazing things Gilbert and I created together. I will always be connected to them both.

NN: It seems like most contestants on national cooking competition shows go dark for a while after the show ends. Can you shed some light on why?

LG: TV has a way of testing your strength, convictions and dreams. I have worked in every capacity of the restaurant industry since I was 16 years old. My grandparents have a sustainable farm in Iowa. My great grand parents had a restaurant. It’s in my blood. To be truly great in our industry, you must absolutely love serving and accept it as a lifestyle. It’s a service industry. Restaurant life is not for everyone. I could never leave it. I didn’t pursue TV, it pursued me. And all I kept telling myself was, when it’s over, I go back to my life, my restaurant life. That’s REALITY. And its the reality that I love.

NN: Any other projects in the works?

LG: I’m launching my new space, rebranding Suze Catering, expanding my apron line to include linens and vintage inspired uniforms, raising capital for a new retail food concept and Urban Garden/Coop Downtown that will donate 10 percent of gross profits to feeding homeless children, teaching sustainable living and ministering to the impoverished. I believe in giving back. I believe in Downtown Dallas. I plan to build a business that supports them both.

Lisa Garza- Taste Studio and Events, 1409 South Lamar #207. 214-282-0165

[email protected]

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