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Matthias Merges Pens His Reflections on Homaro Cantu's 'Glimpses of Brilliance'

Yusho, Billy Sunday, A10, Yusho Hyde Park and Yusho Las Vegas chef/owner Matthias Merges wrote this story in reflection on departed chef Homaro Cantu. Merges and Cantu worked side-by-side for four years at Charlie Trotter's. His words are presented unedited.

Homaro Cantu and Matthias Merges
Homaro Cantu and Matthias Merges

My introduction to chef Homaro Cantu was years ago at Charlie Trotter's restaurant, a place for the young cooks who followed a different drummer, who didn't fit in with the corporate, predictable or classically-run restaurants. This kitchen was for the dreamers, the warriors, the inventors, the outliers.

This was the place Homaro would call home for four years working 12-14 hours a day, a place where he began questioning everything, solving problems, creating new and innovative methods of cooking to working the front of the house and gaining perspective, gaining a grasp of the "big picture." Passion and drive created the foundation of Homaro's career as well as his inexhaustible and contagious enthusiasm for the improbable and impossible.

From the elastomer oven to using lasers in the kitchen to the miracle berry, even printing edible menus out of seaweeds!! Most everyone said WTF!!! Some said "madness," I say glimpses of brilliance. Many of the greatest chefs we all know today have had the same comments said about them as well. Now we revere their creative prowess and hold them in the highest regard and rightly so.

Thank you, Homaro, for never letting me forget why I first began to cook. The adventure, the constant search for knowledge, for never letting me forget the thrill of tasting something new like a child for the first time. This is what great chefs do—this is the finest result at the table.

This unrelenting pursuit also brings immense pressures and responsibilities. A chef is his or her worst and terrible critic. This path is a difficult one to navigate and unfortunately it claims victims from time to time. I want to say now to all whom I have had the privilege to work with—I am honored to have been able to share the immense joy this business can bring and to have helped each other through chaos and uncertainty as well. I only wish I had a chance to say this to chef Homaro Cantu.

Homaro Cantu embraced the impossible, dreamt big, loved passionately and gave generously....  Lessons for all...