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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  • Mo

    Divas don’t dedicate their lives to serving in aprons? No, they don’t. They dedicate their lives to posing for cameras sprawled out on a tuffet in a retro party dress and a totally impractical faux apron that they designed to sell to other women who also view aprons as a fashion accessory rather than blue collar kitchenwear.

  • Chris Chris

    She didn’t pursue TV? Excuse me? Did someone force to her to tape an audition video to try out for TNFNS? Was a mini pastry gun pointed at her head when she signed off on having crews videotape her every move? I understand that editing can make anyone look like a villain or a hero but she has that superficial/Stepford wife persona that doesn’t project warmth and humility. (at least not on TV.) Maybe it’s the hair? But for what it’s worth, I really really enjoyed watching her on that show.

  • Mark

    @Mo: Touche.

  • allison

    I love the tags.

  • Wishing you well Lisa in all your current and future endeavors!

  • Raj

    I feel zero empathy about the repercussions of the notoriety she sought, and the subsequent polarization of her followers.

    That said, she’s very MILF-y, and I would be happy to do some cooking with her.

  • Chris Chris. Don’t judge people by what you see on TV, just as you wouldn’t want to be judged (entirely) by what you wrote above – otherwise you’d use your real name, Sugar.

    Lisa rocks and is one of the nicest and most caring people I know. It’s great that she’s back in Dallas.

    Good luck on the new company!

  • Wendy

    Honestly, I don’t get why she’s so polarizing, but then again, I work with a lot of ladies who are just like her. She’s beautiful, smart, successful, and if she wants to cater to an upscale crowd, then more power to her. After all, they’re the ones with money to spend!

  • Bobby Ewing

    Keep on keeping on, Lisa. While we’ve never met I admire your moxy and determination. Dallas is lucky to have ya.

  • Raj

    Lisa isn’t polarizing. The media likes to polarize because we buy it.

  • TxEx

    She really deserved to win. The actual winner, whatever his name was, was a joke. On his first show he made a salad w/ fried chicken tenders? Seriously, it looked so unappetizing.

  • sausage on a stick

    Maybe if she didn’t take herself so f**king seriously and wasn’t such a SNOB, people might sympathize with her.

  • BB

    @Chris You have no idea. They did contact Lisa after her name was continuously mentioned to them (THE FOOD NETWORK) and they asked her to enter. HATER!!!

  • Ryan C.

    I think it is silly how people are so quick to judge others based on a media’s painting of their personality.

    I was close friends with Lisa in High school and have spoken to here periodically since. She is a woman of courage and achievement.

    While her perspectives and opinions may differ from yours, please give her credit for making her way through this journey we call Life. Good luck in everything Lisa!

  • Sausage, I’m curious. Do you know Lisa or have you spent any time around her? I think these TV shows have an effect on those of us who watch them jump so many hoops. After a while we feel like we really know them. Like we could walk up to them on the street and say hey tough break like a friend or foe would. And so what if she entered. Many of us say oh I would NEVER do that. Then somebody calls you and says hey…and there is talk of a show and money and blah…Lisa (and Casey and Tre) were all young chefs who, until they went on national TV, were working under/for well-known chefs in Dallas. They gambled on a chance. It’s my understanding that their lives have been altered in so many more negative ways than positive. Those shows own you for years after you appear on them. Lisa is a unique personality, but I would never consider her a snob. Driven? Motivated? Lover of fine clothes and fine food? Yes.

  • Very articulate, smart and classy. That is how I found Lisa to be during a chance meeting at White Rock Lake. She is a real person who wants to make a difference in kid’s lives and their education and how it is shaped by what they put in their bodies.
    Kudos to a real Dallas hero!

    Brenda Robson
    Art Teacher
    First Baptist Academy

  • girloftheworld

    Lisa has been such an inspiration to me and always will be. I have friends who think selena gomez of mylie cyres are someone to look up to look up to? NO thank you. I will continue to have my Lisa picture on my School notebook thank you very much!
    Love and Respect

  • GW

    Lisa, you rock

  • Sylvia

    I am amazed at how much time and effort people put in bashing Lisa. So she loves nice clothes, she loves serving/wearing aprons that are unfucntional, that she wears her hair a certain way…who the hell cares!
    Here is what she IS: FANTASTIC COOK! LOVELY EYE CANDY! A GREAT MOTHER! HAS A PASSION FOR FEEDING THE LESS FORTUNATE! A SELF PROMOTER (YOUR A FOOL IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A BUSINESS AND DO NOT DO THAT), A GREAT BUSINESS WOMAN…LOVES BEING A FOODIE, BEING IN THE LIMELIGHT…What is wrong with all of those things. In this hard economic time, if you can make it in ANY business, KUDOS to you. When I read negative comments, the only thing that comes to mind is “GOT JEALOUSY” because that what all of this is about. Green with envy. I love Lisa…every little thing about her. She has class in a world where the very word is intimidating. People…go eat a cookie or something! Scheez…get a life…really.

  • Sylvia

    Chris…move on. Being a “hater” is not very attractive.

  • Tank

    @Sylvia Well said…you hit the nail on the head.

  • Don

    I just give her props for claiming a city and publicly stating how she wants to make it better. Maybe if others stopped complaining our fair city might benefit.