Chef Chat, Part 1: Octavio Madrigal of Theo's Restaurant

One's A Meal, the beloved Greek spot in Montrose, has seen some changes this year. It has a new owner (Ted "Theo" Mousoudakis), a new name (Theo's), and best of all, a beer and wine liquor license that kicks in today. The food never stops at this 24/7 restaurant, and now the party doesn't have to either.

Eating Our Words sat down with Mousoudakis and longtime One's A Meal chef, Octavio Madrigal.

Eating Our Words: So, why the name change?

Ted Mousoudakis: People have weddings here. They don't want to put One's A Meal on their wedding invitations. "Ted's" sounded corny. I didn't think that sounded so hot. Sounds like a diner. (Besides the name) I haven't changed one thing. The employees didn't change, the menu didn't change.

EOW: So Octavio, how long have you been working here?

Octavio Madrigal: With Theo I've been here four months.

EOW: Before that?

OM: For One's A Meal, I worked for four years, I think.

EOW: And before that...

OM: Before One's A Meal, I worked for Rouge, which is the same place as this -- we just changed names. For Rouge I worked for another three and a half.

EOW: Was Rouge a Greek restaurant?

TM: It was a French restaurant.

OM: I started as a cook for Rouge, then after the chef left, I took over.

EOW: And, uh, what did you do before that?

OM: Before that, (laughs), I worked for the Houstonian Hotel for three years as a line cook.

EOW: Where are you from?

OM: I'm from Mexico, from Jalisco.

EOW: When did you start cooking?

OM: I started cooking back in 1990. I don't remember how old I was. I was around 20, something like that.

EOW: Were you still in Mexico at that point?

OM: No, I started cooking here. When I come over here I started of course like everybody -- from scratch. I didn't know English back then, so I had to just start doing this work as a dishwasher, bus boy; things you can do without talking too much. That's how I started in the restaurant business.

EOW: When did you first get your hands on some food?

OM: I worked for this restaurant downtown, that's where I started cooking. I went from washing dishes to doing prep and then I started working a couple days in the kitchen. It was American food.

EOW: When did you first start cooking Greek food?

OM: When I got to this place. It was just about six years now. I never cooked at a Greek restaurant before I got here.

EOW: What's different about Greek food?

OM: Oh, it's totally different. It's a different way to cook stuff. I didn't learn anything about this until I got here. Before I cooked for French restaurants, American. This is my first experience cooking Greek.

EOW: Ok, but what makes it Greek?

OM: They use a lot of olive oil, oregano, lemon, a lot of garlic. We've got all these different dips -- eggplant and hummus.

Come back tomorrow to speak more Greek with Madrigal.

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