THE word family is one of the closest words we have to the essence of what love truly feels like. We will forgive and let go of things that you wouldn’t normally let go of, if it’s family.
We all will go to the ends of the earth, and often times put someone else’s happiness before our own, if it’s family.
That said, food and family have almost always come hand and hand. Whether it’s leaning on the wall at two in the morning with your friend, eating cheeseburgers and talking about life’s roller coasters, or standing with your grandma in the kitchen as she shows you how the technique and traditions behind the recipes she uses in the kitchen, food has always been in the middle of family.
To believe in yourself enough to take a chance is something that doesn’t happen overnight. It is something that requires a lot of strength and confidence, which is something you get directly from the support of your family. When someone believes in you enough to give you a chance and supports your dreams, it gives those who need an influx of internal strength, the confidence to take that leap of faith, and believe in themselves.
I see Savannah continuing that trend, as more and more chefs and entrepreneurs are beginning to believe in themselves enough to take the challenge and do exactly what they see for themselves.
This new resurgence of talented chefs paired with this new food truck movement has left most locals happy about what the future holds, as far as being a potentially progressive city that looks beyond the past. This will help our local community continue to support those who are taking their leaps of faith, as we create our family of local culture.
I got a chance to sit down with one of my mentors and family member, Chaz Ortiz, who has been the face for consistency in food trucks since he opened his doors about a year ago. We talked about what it took to get to where he is now.
His growth has been so rapid and authentic over this past year that he has opened two food trucks, and just recently a restaurant in Pooler off of Highway 80.
Chaz has been one of the hardest working individuals I’ve ever met, whose story is even more inspiring than the energy he produces when you talk with him in person.
“The first person who let me inside their truck, I met in Charleston. It was a Puerto Rican truck,” he explains. “I didn’t realize until this moment that him helping me, has always inspired me to want to invite people in and give them the knowledge that was passed down to me.”
Most people wouldn’t take that approach, assuming that inviting competition into the field might not be the best idea, but Chaz has embraced the idea of having food trucks around Savannah, and wants to help whoever is actually serious about this business.
“If you are afraid of competition, you are not confident in your product,” Chaz says. “The difference between me and them, is that this hasn’t been about a dollar for me, but more about doing what I love to do.”
Chaz left his well-paying job at Gulfstream to pursue his passion, which was his leap of faith. Trusting that the ground you will land on will be soft enough for you to hit it, and keep running. Growing up in commercial kitchens throughout his adolescence shaped his passion for food, but not wanting to be a prepping machine his whole life, is what initially turned his attention towards aviation.
But, when his side gig began to take precedence over his day job, he took the risk, and followed his heart. And Chaz contributes all of his success to nothing else besides family.
“My growth and the growth of my business came through family,” he says. “From mother-in laws, to aunts and uncles and cousins. I’m not sure where I would be today without my family. For me, it doesn’t take blood to be family.”
Family has allowed Chaz to not only have soft ground to land on, it has allowed him to produce some of the most authentic Latin cuisine you can find in town.
Chaz has worked hard to make the most out of every single opportunity he has been blessed with. He has set the blueprint for entrepreneurs who are inspiring to fulfill their own destinies.
Family, hard work, and dedication can turn a thought, into two food trucks and a restaurant in less than a year. If that doesn’t motivate you to chase your dreams no matter how ambitious they may be, then I’m not sure what will.
And if you are looking for a taste of some delicious, authentic, fresh Latin cuisine, take the time to visit Chazito’s, on Highway 80 in Pooler.
Or follow him to see where his food trucks are throughout the week. Let’s keep supporting and stirring that pot, people.