This is why I Opened popoca . . .

My son. My family. My community. Both here in Oakland and in El Salvador. My dream is to share the beauty of Salvadorian culture with my Oakland community in the best way I know how — by cooking.

I got my start in fine-dining kitchens while working as a ranch hand in Montana when I was 16 years old. After spending the day repairing barbed wire fences (and swatting horse flies), I would hang out in the kitchen of the high-end lodge next door. I soon traded ranch work for washing dishes. In that intense little kitchen under Montana’s Big Sky, I discovered my connection to food.

My career has allowed me to develop my culinary skills working with some great chefs and cooking crews in the Bay Area, including Plumed Horse in Saratoga, Saison and Commonwealth in San Francisco, and Quattro in Palo Alto. I then stepped into an executive chef role at Michelin-recommended Michel Bistro in Oakland. As co-chef, I helped open Bardo Lounge & Supper Club in Oakland in 2018.

With the opening of Popoca, I’m realizing a dream that has been simmering since I first fell in love with El Salvador on a visit to spend time with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. The beaches, the mountain towns, the culture, the food. I loved it all. I decided then and there, that I wanted to spend the rest of my life learning about my roots and the food of El Salvador.

I’ve traveled throughout El Salvador learning old techniques and recipes. I’m excited to share this food with you. My hope is that, just maybe, you’ll get a taste of the absolute beauty of El Salvador.

This is my offering, my popoca.