Omar Garcia never imagined a life in the culinary arts. While growing up, he often assisted his mother with their family catering business, but never considered it to be a career path he would take on. However, fate had other plans.
During his high school years, Omar focused on playing soccer since he intended to pursue a career playing professionally. However, at the age of sixteen, he was forced to stop due to an injury. Uncertain about his future, he began working at Foodlife, the food court mecca at Chicago’s Water Tower Place. He started working the pizza station, one of the food hall’s busiest stations, and quickly moved his way up, becoming one of the most reliable employees. During this time, he developed a burning desire to expand his culinary knowledge.
Omar was offered an opportunity to work alongside Chef Joseph Heppe at Oak & Char and accepted. From there, his culinary career was born. Working for Chef Joseph Heppe was one of the most influential moments in Omar’s career. Inspired by this, he left Oak + Char to continue pursuing his love for food with a focus on fine dining. He spent the next two years cooking at high-profile area restaurants, including Michelin-starred Elizabeth Restaurant, and collaborating with culinary intellectuals at pop-up dinners.
Omar now leads the culinary development at Slightly Toasted and Little Toasted, two new Chicago destinations for all things Coffee, Toast, Whiskey and Beer, alongside his sister, pastry chef Brenda Garcia. For Omar, food is a beautiful piece of artwork. His menus reflect the attention he gives to each and every one of his ingredients, while also showcasing the connection he has with food. His strongest belief is that a great chef should never stop learning.