Photos by Ramón Hernández
Chef Waldo Frank Óscar Castro Zambrano is so prominent and so much as has been written about him and his famous dishes in countless superlative adjectives that it is hard to describe him and his creations without fear of being accused of plagiarism.
The story of this Wonderful, Amazing, Latino, Distinguished Outgoing human being, who is also Courteous, HHelpful, Exceptional and Flamboyant, is as astounding as its subject.
The world renowned chef’s love for cooking began when he was just a young boy and cooking became a passion that made him the best among his peers. Perhaps his secret is several lifetimes of recipes that his mother passed down to him as a sort of culinary inheritance.
Waldito, as he is affectionately called, completed his culinary studies in Lima, Perú in October 1981, spent two years working each position in the kitchen, then went on to cook in the most prestigious Peruvian hotel chains that sent him to Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the Cayman Islands and other Caribbean countries as an executive chef.
To learn firsthand about other Latin cuisines and the meaning of food in other countries, the industrious young man also spent some time traveling to Brazil, Ecuador and Bolivia.
That accumulated experience translated into an impressive resume that allowed the ambitious young chef to explore new horizons. He set his vision on the United States and in 1986, the chef, who was born on the fourth of July, migrated to Miami where, a year later, the go-getter obtained his certificate for Interior Decoration from the University of Miami followed by a business management degree in 1989.
Determined to succeed, in 1995, Waldo was named “Manager of the Year” of the Hyatt Regency at the Almamera in Coral Gables, Florida and in July 1999, he participated in El Foro 99, a technical symposium and exposition for professionals in the Latin American Food Industry.
The achiever forged ahead as production chef, banquet chef, executive chef and executive Sous chef for five-star hotels such as Hotel Inter-Continental, Don Shula’s Hotel & Gold Club, Radisson’s Deauville Resort, the Sheraton and the Colonnade Hotel in Miami, Coral Gables, Miami Beach and Bal Harbour, Florida. It was also at these hotels where the charismatic chef was put in charge of private banquets for President Bill Clinton, Julio Iglesias, Enrique Iglesias, Meryl Streep and many other world-known celebrities.
Then it was on to the Doubletree Hotel in Atlanta, Buckhead, Georgia, where in 2002, the now acknowledged, class act chef received the “Leader of the Quarter” award.
Returning to Miami before the end of the year, the daring and dynamic chef opened Chick-N-Grill and by November, food critics for newspapers such as Perú Hoy were writing rave reviews about the tender, juicy and tasty chicken that emitted an exotic aroma, but was yet healthy due to Waldo’s unique combination of tropical herbs.
As a business owner, Waldo became the vice-president of the American Christian Chamber of Commerce and also started giving back to the community. Hence was recognized for his efforts with a Certificate of Appreciation from Dade Partners.
The year 2005, also signaled the first of many accolades to follow when he received a citation from the El Rey Jesús Leadership Institute.
Not one to rest on his laurels, in 2009, Chef Waldo arrived in the Alamo City to manage the Crowne Plaza Hotel. However, he was ready to set Texas’ culinary world on fire and give the city his Divine Taste in the way of catering with flair, but why San Antonio?
“I call it the baby Miami because there are people from so many nations and cultures; and it’s expanding,” the gregarious chef said with a smile.
Quickly building up a reputation for his culinary skills, it wasn’t long before the remarkable Peruvian became even more visible when he was featured on the Food Network’s television show, “Iron Chef” and “Hell’s Kitchen.”
The problem is that only those that attended an event that he catered, were able to enjoy his succulent dishes. To go public, in 2010 Waldo came up with the idea of mixing food with entertainment in the way of live music acts when he organized “Sabor A Mi” for the National Hispanic Professional Organization (NHPO). The ingenious chef then garnered more publicity when he delighted many San Antonio mom’s by cooking up a special international breakfast for a Telemundo television Mother’s Day event.
The demand for his culinary delights indicated that he needed to open his own restaurant, but no one would help him. However, he was daring, rented a space in a strip center and started out with one table with his wife Josephine “Josie” Bocanegra waiting on first one, then two and three tables as the determined chef cooked, served, washed dishes and ended the night with broom and mop in hand as he helped his wife clean up the place.
“I decided to open my own restaurant because it was in my plans, but it wasn’t easy trying to take an idea to make money without having money. The business was going up, but I still needed help and that’s when they told me about Acción,” Waldo said of the organization that was instrumental in his survival.
Then, as a music promoter and sponsored by NHPO, in October 2010, he brought in Tito Puente Jr., Domenic Marte and Los Tres Reyes to the Sunken Gardens. And yes, those in attendance were introduced to Waldo’s cooking.
The following year, Waldo hosted his own International Month Celebration that featured foods from ten countries on January 15, 2011 at Wonderland of the Americas. Later that same year, he brought his Taste of the America’s event plus eight salsa/merengue/reggaeton bands to what was now the “Sabor A Mi” International Festival Salsarengueton.
His “Taste of the America’s” also razzle dazzled event goers to the Fats Tuesday event at Wonderland of the America’s. In summary, all his events were huge hits.
In 2012, the established, acknowledged professional chef was called upon to provide his input at the St. Philip’s College committee meetings as an advisor to help them keep their curriculum up to date in regard to their teachings to culinary, pastry and restaurant students.
The rise of this formidable chef was surprisingly astonishing. Was it because of his exceptional cooking skills and exotic, creative dishes or was it due to his endearing personality?
Waldo attributes his rise to fame to persistence and most important to God, who heard and answered his prayers.
Most people agree that he is todo corazón, he’s all heart and that has made him highly respected member of our community. A classic example of what he is doing for others is Chef Waldo’s Wheel Chair Foundation through which this Good Samaritan’s co-president, Josie, and James Holtzclaw formed with the main purpose of taking care of children and others with disabilities by specifically distributing wheel chairs obtained through private funding sources and donations, to those in need at no cost.
“The Bible says, ‘give and you shall receive.’ I’m a Christian, so I have a lot of faith and with a good woman and son by your side, how could I not be blessed,” the extremely, generous 52-year-old restaurateur said.
“I give back to the community because I simply like to help people and I love to do everything I can for a human being; and if you give, they’ll love you back.
Now that you have met the man behind the taste, this writer will introduce you to his craft and the culinary creativity that has made him a star, that thanks to a slew of glowing rave reviews by top-notch, tough as nails, highly opinionated food critics, is fast becoming legendary.
When it comes to catering special events, ceviche is at the top of his menu and Waldo makes this dish by placing shrimp and fish into an artfully crafted citrus marinade and it isn’t long before the acid in the juice begins to ‘cook’ the fresh chunks of fish, scallops, shrimp and more. After you take a bite of this zingy creation, you will never want to eat any other version again.
Incidentally, the ceviche is served with a small glass of the marinating leche de tigre (tiger’s milk) juice, which is reputed to act as an aphrodisiac.
Other goodies in the salad section include saipicon de pollo. The main course on the carving station is a choice of pork, chicken rotisserie; yucca cooked two different ways, tostones and maduros.
The hot station may features parmesan risotto, tomato basic risotto, paella Valenciana, fresh Napoleon vegetables plus homemade chicken and pork tamales wrapped in green banana leaves.
To quench the thirst and make the food go down smoothly, Chef Waldo prepares his famous homemade orange, pineapple and peach iced tea.
Waldo’s patrons cannot help but sate themselves followed by taking care of their sweet tooth with a vast array of fresh fruits that one can dip in a cascading flow of chocolate. Then there’s his popular tembleque and crema voltiada, which looks like, but is the opposite of flan.
As for what is featured in El Ceviche de Waldito’s restaurant, the ceviche and other delectable native gastronomical delicacies such as the papa a la Huacaina and picante de mariscos — a slightly spicy blend of sautéed seafood from crab, shrimp, octopus, calamari, tilapia and mussels — are not a buffet item, but are a part of the Peruvian menu, which Waldo is ready to prepare at a moment’s notice.
The papa de Hacaina rocks and some food critics have asked for bread to scoop and sop up the sauces because as they say, “It’s that good.”
Edmund Tijerina of the San Antonio Express-News wrote: There are so many versions and slight variations when it comes to making lomo saltado (stir-fried beef strips with onion and peppers tossed with French fries) that it’s worth trying several to get a sense of which version you prefer. All the more reason for trying more Peruvian cuisine and Chef Waldo serves as an excellent guide.”
The member of SA’s Club Social y Cultural Peruano is so enamored with cooking that he loves sharing the multifaceted cooking methods of his native country as much as he enjoys cooking those incredible dishes.
The fabulous multiple choice buffet, at a reasonable $6.99 is within anyone’s budget; and it includes a choice of pernil (roast pork), chicken, soup and salad plus a choice of white rice or the classic Puerto Rican/Cuban arroz con gandules, habichuelas guisadas (black beans), tostones (mashed and fried plantains), sweet plantains, hibiscus tea and dessert.
So to taste wonderful international flavors without traveling to the mountains of Perú, go to Waldito’s where you will get twice the quantity of other restaurants, but at half the price.
In the print medium, food reviews on Waldo’s savory, mouth-watering dishes that include photographs that make a person drool, have been featured in Flavor (San Antonio’s Ultimate Food Lover’s Guide) and San Antonio and Austin’s Wedding Guide Magazine. Waldo would also like to thank Richard Teitz at SA Current magazine, Amanda Lozano at La Prensa, Vladmir Ramírez at El Mundo de Austin and Chris Vásquez at The Helotes Echo to name just a few other publications.
No wonder this culinary star received a Medal for his selection as Chef of the Year at this year’s Alberto Alegre Awards, which were sponsored by Radio Digital 104.1 FM and in demand for television interviews.
Certificates, restaurant reviews and other accolades wallpaper two sides of his restaurant, so come out and find out what all the fuss is about and meet the showman chef whose backstage is the kitchen and his stage is behind the buffet bar or serving lots of hugs and banter on the floor
El Ceviche de Waldito is located outside Loop 410 and one block north of the CD Exchange at 5526 Evers Road.
San Antonio Luminaria 2013
Story and photos by Joseph Martinez
Rain ,Rain stay away and it did. For the folks who braved the cool night they were treated to an amazing evening loaded with the sight, sound and the aroma of food lingering in the air. Walking the park grounds I came to a opinion wishing there were two of me so I can see and enjoy twice as much. There were 6 stages and over 600 artist.
The LANGTON DRIVE band caught my attention they were playing by the Tower of the America’s. With the look and the flavor of Joan Jett , this rock-punk like band had the crowd hopping. With matching pink ties and black shirts these young rockers have a bright future in music. More info? http://www.facebook.com/XLangtonDriveX
The next band I ran across was the HARES, a well season- 6 member band that play a wide range of music. Like rock and Latino with a jazzy feel. (Wish I had more time to listen to them) more info? http://www.facebook.com/TheHares/info#!/TheHares
The Jazz POETS of San Antonio with the jazz poetry band backing them up helps to keep them on track. Performing at U.N.A.M. building; at times there was only standing room. The Talent was not short in demand, spoken in English and in Spanish it was just right for the night. More info? www.facebook.com/pages/San-Antonio-Jazz-Poet-Society/183635105014965
Walking and enjoying the sites I came across “Saint Apophenia” it was shining on the wall. What the heck is that? Check it out on line www.saintapophenia.com
Proxy Theatre Group did some short and powerful acting using limited props. It felt like being in theatre in the round. Need to know more? http://proxytheatreonline.com/ or http://www.facebook.com/proxytheatrecompany
At the Valero stage,The Invincible Czars, an Austin rock band was on tap to please everyone. The group did their modernized arrangements of classical composers and some original songs as well. Beautiful, sometime haunting sounds. Playing to the back drop of an old black and white movie. Do you want to see more about them? www.invincibleczars.com or http://www.facebook.com/invincibleczars
The Tower of the Americas was flooded in lights looking as if it was freshly painted. Tents illuminated from the inside out giving the illusion of a ghost like people looking out windows (A little creepy)
All around, you would see family, couples and groups of friends roaming the different venues and enjoying the sights. At times I would accidently bump in to someone and what I mainly heard was “I’m sorry” or “Excuse me.” This friendliness in general is just part of what makes San Antonio a large town with a small town feeling.
This review of “Luminaria 2013” shows only a small amount. Truly, it is something that one must experience in person http://www.luminariasa.org/
With so many sites to see, Do yourself a favor for “Luminaria 2014”. Grab a map and a list of events ,mark the MUST SEE artist and prepare yourself for a night of excitement.
See ya next year!
River City Attractions
Photos by Ramón Hernández
We’ve all heard about the “Seven wonders of the world,” and the seven wonders of the ancient world. And if they were to rate seven seafood restaurants among the eatery wonders of San Antonio, Rudy’s Seafood would be at the top of the list because that’s how good it is.
Even the very reasonably priced appetizing daily specials are a force to be reckoned with. Take the special that includes two choice large fish fillets, three nice sized shrimp, Cole slaw, zesty French fries and a Serrano pepper to make the dish even more enjoyable. Even the presentation looks exquisite.
The Serrano pepper is something the establishment’s founder Yndalecio Rudy Ramírez tried years ago and it became a popular mainstay. And as is evident, his middle name became the eponym for the popular seafood eatery.
Rudy, who loved to fish, got a secret recipe from a fellow fisherman and in 1964 opened his first location as Rudy’s Fried Fish on Nogalitos Street. He later operated seafood branches on Guadalupe Street and Fredericksburg Road in the North side, but found that the demographics that best worked for him were in the Southside.
“The customers are very loyal in the Southside and if you treat the people right, they will keep on coming forever,” said Roland Ramírez, who has been working at Rudy’s since he was eight and took over the restaurant after his father passed on October 16, 2004.
“The fathers you can deal with, but when the mothers go, that’s a totally different thing because they’re the ones that keep the family going,” Roland continued.
Gratifying, titillating, well prepared seafood became the family specialty and Roland’s brother Jerry Antonio followed in their father’s footsteps when he opened Neptune’s followed by J. Anthony’s, which he later sold.
Roland’s mother, Elva Gloria Garza Ramírez, has been keeping the books since day one; and his two sons, Roland Jr. and Johnny are following their grandfather’s example by working along their father and will hopefully continue the family seafood legacy.
Getting back to the star of the restaurant – the food — entire families can enjoy the luscious mouthwatering six and six (6 & 6) special, which consists of six fish fillets and six shrimp. Another popular combo is the flavorful two fish fillets, two piquant shrimp, two savory oysters with French fries and tasty Cole slaw.
Then there’re side dishes such as mouthwatering fried mushrooms, delicious onion rings and fried delectable sweet potatoes.
All dishes are stacked with generous portions that make one wonder how Roland stays in business, but one bite answers that question, taste.
During the time this writer were there, everyone that walked through the door made a beeline for Roland, whose personal touch has endeared him to his thousands of customers, now lifelong friends that keep coming back to eat in a pleasant family oriented atmosphere where everybody knows him.
“A lot of our customers grew up before our eyes as we saw them coming in with their parents; and now that they have grown up, they come in with their children; and in some cases a family may span three generations from grandparents to their children and grandchildren.”
“And it is not strange or out of the ordinary to see a stream of celebrities and VIPs from actors, comedians, Tejano singers and musicians, basketball players plus car dealership owners, prominent attorneys on up to county judges come in for a bite.
During Cuaresma (Lent) lines have been seen to extend through the middle of the parking lot from late morning to 8 p.m. and cars are parked up to two blocks in all four directions.
Asked for the secret of their success besides their top secret recipes, Roland said, we have been at this present location twenty years and everyone raves about the taste, which we attribute to cooking only all-original fresh seafood and giving a pilon (freebie portion) of extra fish or shrimp.
So perhaps the freshest is what makes their seafood tempting, stimulating and succulent, all which a children could summarized with one simple word, yummy.
Rudy’s is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and it is always packed, but do not fear because there’s plenty of booths and tables. Another plus is that men can watch their favorite sport on a big screen television and women can watch their favorite telenovela on a different big screen.
RAIN OR SHINE: SAN ANTONIO PRESENTS 6TH ANNUAL LUMINARIA
SAN ANTONIO (March 8, 2013) – The Sixth Annual Luminaria will take place Saturday, March 9, 2013 in HemisFair Park and downtown San Antonio from 7 p.m. to midnight. Luminaria will take place, rain or shine. However, in the event of rain, music and art installations will be moved inside the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center and the indoor venues in HemisFair Park will also be open.
“We are confident that, rain or shine, San Antonio’s Sixth Annual Luminaria will be a night to remember,” says Richard Rosen, Artistic Director of Luminaria.
Luminaria is San Antonio’s annual celebration of art and artists, and this year marks the sixth anniversary of the arts event. Luminaria is a free event that showcases all art forms in both indoor and outdoor settings in downtown San Antonio. Over 600 artists will showcase original works of art and performances specifically created for Luminaria.
“This annual celebration of the arts has become a hallmark event, showcasing San Antonio as a creative and contemporary art and music hub,” says San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro. “I want to invite everyone to come and experience an extraordinary Luminaria event that takes place in HemisFair Park and areas throughout our vibrant downtown.”
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Richard Rosen, Associate Directors Kathy Armstrong and Mellissa Marlowe and the Luminaria Steering Committee selected 90 artists and groups with the best original installations and performances within six artistic disciplines (Dance, Literary, Media, Music, Theatre and Performance, and Visual).
Through one night of arts, we seek to re-imagine downtown San Antonio as a canvas for enlightened, innovative, edgy, surprising, and interactive contemporary artwork from all artistic disciplines.
Luminaria is San Antonio’s annual celebration of art and artists. Held annually in March and overseen by San Antonio’s creative leaders, Luminaria is a free event that showcases all art forms in an outdoor setting in downtown San Antonio. Luminaria spotlights the region’s cultural assets for local citizens and visitors alike and is made possible through the generosity of artists, arts organizations, volunteers, and public and private donations. Launched in 2008, the event drew 315,000 people to downtown San Antonio last year alone.
Luminaria’s name is San Antonio’s adaptation of “White Nights”, originally conceived in Paris, France in 2002, in an attempt to bring contemporary art to the masses in public spaces, while inspiring dialogue and engaging the public to examine its significance and impact on public space. For more information, please visit www.luminariasa.org. Like Luminaria on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LuminariaSA or follow Luminaria on Twitter @LuminariaSA.