FOODIES WEST.COM         
CHEF DE CUISINE RODERICK LeDESMA
PRIMO RESTAURANT at JW MARRIOTT TUCSON STARR PASS
June 2016 Issue | Vol. 4, No. 11                                                  Cooking was always what I wanted to do.
 
 
 
 

       
Senior Pastry Chef
JW MARRIOTT TUCSON STARR PASS
CHRIS JOHNSON


     
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THE PHOENICIAN
Greg Tresner/Salad Wines

     
Master Sommelier
THE PHOENICIAN
Greg Tresner/Pinot Noir

      
Sleeping Frog Farms
. . . In the beginning!


Chef Rod LeDesma talks about a hobby he and his dad have that got them on the silver screen on our
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Rod LeDesma |Chef de Cuisine | PRIMO Restaurant | JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass |Tucson, Arizona Rod LeDesma will tell you his career in the kitchen started with a chocolate chip cookie. He has a tattoo to memorialize the event. “This whole thing is about the kitchen,” LeDesma said about his tattoo collage, starting with the art depicting the energy in the kitchen. “Really, in the kitchen, it’s organized chaos. One part’s organized and the other the chaos. The cookie is the first thing my mom ever taught me how to make. That’s for my mom.” Mom admits she should have known her eldest son would become a chef. She often tells the story of when she came home one day and found him sitting on the carpet on the living room floor in front of the TV with a dozen smashed eggs and a frying pan. Rod, what are you doing? Making eggs! “I didn’t really know this,” LeDesma said of the scene. “I was so little, maybe two at the time, maybe three, but my mom tells this story all the time.” LeDesma embarked on his egg-making endeavor to mimic his mom. She made wedding cakes and cakes for parties. She also worked in a chocolate shop. She made all types of chocolates, from cookies to truffles. “She always loved cooking,” LeDesma said, “and that’s what got me to love cooking when I was just a little kid. We never, ever went out to eat. My mom always cooked dinner every night. “We didn’t have cable TV,” LeDesma continued to described how he got interested in the kitchen. “I remember watching, when I was little, the old cooking shows on PBS—Yan Can Cook, Galloping Gourmet, Julia Child. All those old ones. That’s what I remember. Just being enthralled. Sucked in. I couldn’t get away.” Especially when Yan Can Cook’s Martin Yan started prepping ingredients. “I just remember his knife would fly,” LeDesma said. “And that was one of my favorite things to watch when I was a little kid. I was watching all of those with my mom. I read a lot, too. She always had cookbooks, and she always had Taste of Home magazine. All the older cookbooks. I’d always look through those.” LeDesma’s mom might have gotten the clue her son would one day become a chef, but he didn’t. Instead he ended up taking psychiatry at University of Arizona. “I didn’t reeeallly want to be a psychiatrist,” LeDesma admitted. “I thought, I guess I’ve got to do this. Because that’s the logical thing to do, go to college instead of doing something that you’re passionate about, or you love doing.” He also reasoned that college, rather than cooking, made more sense. “I knew how difficult it was,” LeDesma said about cooking. “It’s a tough work environment. Not a lot of pay, long hours, and all that. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to work. I just thought, If I go to college, it’ll help me get the right career—versus—I know that working in the kitchen can be a struggle.” But all he ever wanted to do, LeDesma said, was cook.