Elio Romero, previously regarded as José Romero, was just 17 several years previous when he emigrated from El Salvador to the United States.
Romero still left El Salvador simply because of poverty – he didn’t see a future for himself in the nation and experienced read about alternatives in the United States.
“I didn’t know what to do, I did not know the language, but you can be just about anything,” he explained.
He lived with his cousin in Rogers Park when he to start with arrived and bought a position as a dishwasher at Foodstuffs on Central Road in Evanston. He worked there for five yrs, went again to El Salvador to stop by his moms and dads, attempted building for a several months and then determined he had to opt for amongst cooking and baking.
In 2000, Romero received a career as a sous chef at Chef’s Station – now named Alcove – at 1625 Maple Ave., which opened in 1997 and is situated less than the Davis Road Metra station. The head chef before long remaining, and Romero questioned for additional duty.
Eventually the previous operator of Chef’s Station made a decision he wished to retire. He and Romero labored out a offer, and in 2014, Romero bought the restaurant and turned head chef.
For much more than two many years, Romero was residing the American desire, and while it did past for a when, it sputtered with the outbreak of COVID-19.
In 2020, a whole lot altered for Romero. He rebranded Chef’s Station as Alcove, renovated the cafe and then confronted a pandemic. Alcove closed its doorways in February 2020 for renovation and did not reopen until June 2020, but only for outdoor seating.
Since then, Romero mentioned Alcove has felt the exact pandemic exhaustion a lot of area organizations have skilled. But he also felt help from the Evanston neighborhood.
“It’s been a obstacle, but we’re however listed here,” he claimed.
A single shopper introduced workers separate envelopes with more revenue to get them by though Alcove’s doors ended up closed, and another would halt by and assistance Romero with regardless of what he wanted that day.
Fish has usually played an vital function in Romero’s existence, and seafood is a staple at Alcove, from yellowfin tuna tartare to steamed Prince Edward mussels to grilled Spanish child octopus.
Romero recalled likely down to the river in El Salvador, catching a selection of fish with his web and cooking them suitable there at the peak of freshness. Though he doesn’t imagine too lots of fish taste as great as the river fish in El Salvador, he can explain to if a piece of fish is fresh just by searching at it.
Romero attempts to shop neighborhood and organic when he can. He has a distinctive relationship with all of the ingredients he works by using and via a sense of mutual respect amongst the food and the chef, he is in a position to seamlessly create intricate dishes.
“You have to treat it with regard and adore and then every little thing is quick,” he mentioned. “Now, it’s just tough to stop cooking.”
While Romero observed what he was browsing for when he made the dangerous journey to the United States, he claims a compact section of him nevertheless miracles what would have occurred if he had stayed in El Salvador.
He has gone again to El Salvador only once, but programs to go with his 3 daughters this summer time to check out his dad and mom. Romero said he hopes to present his youngsters how distinct his existence could have been if he had not place all fears aside and immigrated to the states.
Stop by Alcove’s web site to make a reservation and find out much more about the menu.