Guillermo Umanzor, Chef De Cuisine of John O'Groats, always knew he wanted to be a chef, but his father had different plans for him.
"I used to love to help my mom cook, even though my dad would always try to get me to do something else; something manlier," Umanzor joked. "I just knew I loved it."
When he was just 18-years-old, Umanzor left a war-ridden El Salvador for America. Completely on his own, Umanzor arrived in the states in order to pursue a better life. Umanzor first met the owners of John O'Groats, Angelica and Robert Jacoby in Los Angeles. At John O'Groats in Encino, Umanzor started out as a dish washer and through the Jacoby's encouragement, he decided to pursue being a chef. While working for the Jacoby's, he simultaneously worked at other restaurants in order to perfect his technique.
From 1990 to 1996 Umanzor worked at the Hilton Hotel as a pastry chef, Boa Steakhouse, Maestro's Steakhouse and then Houston's. In the later 1990's Umanzor was able to attend the New School of Cooking in Culver City to enhance his already lofty resume and become a certified chef.
Since 1996, Umanzor has worked exclusively at John O'Groats and is not planning on leaving anytime soon. The Jacoby's have been like a surrogate family for Umanzor for more than half his life. Umanzor and the Jacoby's son, Paul Jacoby, have become like brothers. In fact some of the menu items were a combination of their ideas, which is largely influenced by American cuisine.
"I love French and classic American," explained Umanzor. "I love pot-roast, meatloaf and pies are some of my favorites to make."
Together, Paul and Umanzor have helped carry on the legacy of John O'Groats, which has been the benefactor of many awards and accolades. Since opening, they have been featured in multiple publications, including Esquire Magazine, where they were named one of the "Best Breakfasts in America." Their breakfast menu has also been mentioned in USA Today, the New York Times Style Magazine, the Los Angeles Times and many more. They have also been named the "Best Breakfast in Town" by KTLA Morning News and KABC Morning News.
One of their signature dishes is "Huevos O'Groats," which has also been featured in Los Angeles Magazine's "Top 100 Dishes." The dish contains a tortilla, which is made from biscuit dough, topped with black beans, sautéed onions and peppers, with two eggs over medium shredded cheese, sour cream and salsa. Another favorite is the "Tuna Melt" whose ingredients include: white albacore tuna mixed with celery and mayonnaise on grilled sourdough bread with lots of melted cheese.
As stated on their website, Paul believes in the principle, "the harder I work, the luckier I get," which is truly reflected in the caliber of Chef Umanzor's food and John O'Groats service.
The restaurant is open Monday to Friday 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily and Saturday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. You can also visit their website for more information.
Huevos O'Groats (serves 1)
1 tortilla 9 to 10 inches
¼ cup of black beans
¼ cup cheddar cheese
1 ounce onion
1 ounce of bell peppers
1 ounce Pico de Gallo
1 teaspoon of sour cream
Make a tortilla out of biscuit dough. Grill the tortilla for one minute on each side at 300 degrees. Put the black beans on top of the tortilla. Chop up onion and bell peppers and sauté. Put onion and peppers on top of black beans.
Make over easy eggs and put them on top of the onions and peppers. Add shredded cheddar cheese on top of eggs. Put some Pico de Gallo on top of the cheese and finish up with a garnish of sour cream and voila! You have an award winning dish.