Jose Lavariega has worked side by side with chef David Burke for over seven years, using his experience at some of the city's most acclaimed restaurants to create approachable cuisine with an elevated touch at David Burke at Bloomingdale's, where he is the executive chef.
A native of Oaxaca, Mexico, Lavariega graduated from the city's Bachillerato Tecnologico High School before arriving in New York, where he was offered a position at the critically acclaimed Oceana in Midtown. He worked the sauté, grill and garde manger stations under executive chef Rick Moonen, developing skills that would form the foundation of his culinary repertoire. After four years, he moved on to Union Square's Cafeteria, where he was promoted to sous chef and soon developed his own menu specials for the restaurant.
In 2003, Lavariega was hired as the sous chef at Amuse, Gerry Hayden and Claudia Fleming's sleek Chelsea eatery known for its wide selection of sharing plates. Hayden ultimately introduced Lavariega to David Burke, who had just opened his first restaurant davidburke & Donatella (now David Burke Townhouse). Burke was impressed by his passion and experience, and immediately hired Lavariega as his sous chef, responsible for training staff and creating the daily amuse bouche and tasting menus.
A year later, Burke asked Lavariega to be his opening sous chef at Hawaiian Tropic Zone, where Burke served as consulting chef. Familiar with Burke's creative, playful approach to food, Lavariega quickly rose to the role of executive chef and remained at the restaurant until 2009.
That same year, Lavariega moved on to David Burke at Bloomingdale's, Burke's casual restaurant in the world famous department store. As its executive chef, he creates menus for the Burke Bar Café, where guests can experience monthly beverage dinners and brunch, lunch and dinner, and Burke in the Box, the restaurant's take-in, eat-out concept. He continues to build upon his menu of comforting American fare with Burke's sense of whimsy and seasonality, such as chicken chili, crab cakes, towering nachos and a burger stuffed with bacon, cheddar and sautéed onions that won the 2012 New York State Beef Council Best Burger award.
When Lavariega isn't at the restaurant, he reads cookbooks and food magazines to stay on top of culinary trends and find inspiration for his own dishes.