Jose Alvarado was born in Torreón, in the Mexican state of Coahuila, and moved to the United States with his large family at the age of three. His love of cooking came at an early age, from helping in his family's restaurant kitchen alongside his mother and older sisters.
After a brief stint in college studying physical therapy, Jose decided to follow his passion for cooking and finished his degree in the culinary arts. He began his career as a chef working for Stephen Pyles at Star Canyon in Dallas, Texas
The goal of furthering his career brought him to New York City in 2001. Jose's first job in the city was with chef Charlie Palmer at the famed Aureole. He continued working as a chef within the Charlie Palmer Group, becoming chef de cuisine of two restaurants, Kitchen 22 and Kitchen 82.
After meeting his partner, Amiee, Jose moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where he further honed his skills in several restaurants, including Union Bar and Grill and Salts in Cambridge. After a year the couple moved back to New York City, where Jose became the chef of La Esquina. There he put his Mexican heritage to work creating a menu based on the food of his childhood.
In 2010 it was time to move on. The dream of opening his own restaurant led Jose to the small town of Carthage, New York, where he opened Jose O'Connor's. The restaurant's eclectic menu combines the cooking of Alvarado's childhood, his past experiences and his current food passions. Jose's seasonal menus are also inspired by the bounty of the family garden, a major source of fresh produce for the restaurant.
Q: How did you get started cooking? What memories do you have of growing up with a family restaurant?
A: I pretty much just took to it from watching my mom cook all these authentic Mexican dishes for the familia. I have always had this dream of opening a small Mexican restaurant where we have tortillas instead of cutlery.
Q: Which ingredient do you use most often in your kitchen?
A: I would say peppers. They may not officially be the most used, but they are the ingredients I like to use the most. We grow jalapeños, hot cherry peppers, dragon tongue and habanero, which we use in several different ways: fresh, pickled and roasted.
Q: What is your cooking style, or how would you describe it?
A: Guinness with a tequila back.