Tumerico: The Spice is Right
Oct 02, 2017 11:12AM
By Suzie Agrillo
Chef Wendy Garcia loves yoga, chai tea and nature, but she’s always thinking about food. She maintains, “To have a successful restaurant, you need to have a passion for what you do.” Garcia possesses that fiery passion, and with her innovative recipes she continues to reach new heights at Tumerico.
While Garcia changes her mouthwatering menu every day, you are likely to find tacos and other Latin dishes on her daily chalkboard. The majority of the delicious menu is prepared vegan and gluten free with organic and locally sourced ingredients. “My ingredients come from New Life Health Center, local farmers’ markets and Native Seeds,” she remarks.
Customers can satiate their taste buds with her tantalizing and spicy food. “My food has a lot of spices—the key for flavorful food is spices,” she says. “You can have just a few ingredients, and if you add spices, you can make food super tasty. I try not to make my food too spicy for my customers, though.”
You could consider Garcia’s food to be health food, but aside from nutrition, it delivers a meal full of appealing flavors. One of the trademarks of her thriving restaurant is the use of turmeric in most of the dishes. “Turmeric is anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and I like the color; it’s full of life,” she says. Another trademark is that every meal includes a bowl of soup and a cup of coffee at no extra charge.
Food was always important in Garcia’s life. A now svelte Garcia candidly reveals, “As a child, I was really chubby. My dad was a farmer and the best chef ever. We got our vegetables from the garden and rarely went to the store for food. It was all about food when I was growing up.” Garcia is open about the genesis of owning her own restaurant. She relates, “I worked at restaurants since I was 18. I got burnt out working at them, and wanted to get back to basics. I opened a stand at the farmers’ market. I sold tamales there, and then I got a cart. When the current location became available, I told the landlord, ‘I want this place.’” The location is a cozy, urban, contemporary setting, which features an open kitchen.
Garcia attributes her attention to customers as another key to her success in a competitive market. “Customers come here not just to pay for food, but for my energy,” she maintains. “You really have to care about the customers; it’s not about money as a goal.” She emphasizes the importance of forming a relationship with clients. She teaches customer service to her team and employees know the customer is always first. She states, “I hire employees who care and who share my passion for excellence.”
Catering is another side of Garcia’s business. She says, “I enjoy catering and the demand has been growing. I cater Latino food, and sometimes curry. I bring the food and set it up on the table, but I don’t stay for food service, which makes things less complicated.”
Garcia has one cautionary warning regarding food portions at Tumerico. She light-heartedly advises, “We serve big plates. It’s a lot of food, so you better come here hungry.”
On November 11, this culinary powerhouse is celebrating the one-year anniversary of her restaurant and expanding into the space next door. “I’m going to have a community event with yoga, music and a (vegan) hot dog cart when I move into the new space. I want to take it step by step, so I’m only going to add a few tables. I need to have time to talk to customers and treat them like family,” she enthuses. “It is not like one more restaurant. It is a community concept.”
Tumerico is located at 2526 E. 6th St., in Tucson. Connect at 520-270-2055 or Tumerico.com.