Luis Rojas is planning some new strategy for this year's chef competition at Charleston's International Cowpea Festival & Cook-off on Saturday, Sept. 14.Rojas is the overseer/mentor for operation …
Luis Rojas is planning some new strategy for this year's chef competition at Charleston's International Cowpea Festival & Cook-off on Saturday, Sept. 14.
Rojas is the overseer/mentor for operation of the Las Margaritas Restaurant on 25th Street. This will be the restaurant's first appearance in the festival's chef competition.
Rojas is quick to admit he is not a chef, but he has a wealth of experience at supervising the restaurant's cooks and support staff. Another area of expertise is fatherhood.
Three of his five children are employees at Las Margaritas. His 20-year-old son, Legend, is the restaurant's manager, although he also is enrolled in college, and plans to study law enforcement. Daughter, Journey, is a server, and Era is the restaurant's busboy.
Luis and his wife, Heather, have two younger children, Fancy and Noble, who are not yet on the restaurant's payroll, but who knows what the future will bring.
For the Cowpea Festival & Cook-off, they are all on the same team.
Rojas, a native of Mexico City, feels the Charleston competition is an excellent opportunity for his restaurant, and its staff, to display their skills.
He said the kitchen staff will be preparing a spicy, Hispanic treat, for festival-goers.
"It will show them the quality of the dishes we prepare," he said.
It will also be an opportunity to display his team's culinary skills and teamwork, with a foundation of family members.
Luis came to Southeast Tennessee in 2002, joining family members in Jasper. That was when he met his wife, Heather, a Jasper native.
They were married in 2003, during a time he was working at the Las Margaritas Restaurant in Jasper.
They then moved to Cleveland, with Luis taking over supervision of the Las Margaritas Restaurant here at the time. He proudly emphasizes he has been with the restaurant for 15 years.
Rojas said he, and his family, have enjoyed more than a decade in Cleveland, and they have become involved in school and other community activities.
He says the Cowpea Festival, and competing in the chef event, is a way to give back, and to strengthen his restaurant's exposure in the community.
It is also a time for some new strategy for the chef competition.
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