West side native and former Salazar sous chef Francisco Alfaro briefly stepped away from the stove before taking the lead role at Mita’s, Jose Salazar’s latest venture, which opened August 10. His “break” consisted of a 60-day bike journey across the United States.
As chef de cuisine at Mita’s, I’d hope you’re a fan of Latin food. I’ve been to Portugal a few times—it’s one of my favorite places and it’s definitely my favorite cuisine. It’s flavorful, but it’s very simple at the same time.
Tell me about this bike trip. I started in Astoria, Oregon, and then I ended in Camden, Maine. It was my last taste of freedom before I needed to get really serious about my career.
It was just you and your bike for two months? I camped 80 percent of the time, and every five days I’d find a hotel room. There’s an app called Warm Showers, and it shows where people are who will take you in, feed you, and give you a bed and a warm shower.
What keeps you coming back to restaurants? The bond you build with everyone in the kitchen. That kind of family atmosphere does it for me.
Do you have a bond with Jose? He’s definitely a mentor to me. Every day, Jose pushes me to be better. He’s got such a wealth of knowledge of what makes a dish great. And he also let me go on a crazy bike trip, and I’m not sure how many other sous chefs would be able to do that, come back, and still be employed.
Mita’s, Fifth and Race, downtown, (513) 421-6482