The Untold Truth Of Chef Eduardo Garcia

Chef Eduardo Garcia is perhaps best known as the "bionic chef," a reference to his prosthetic left arm, per Today. Garcia lost his arm in an accident involving electrocution and had to relearn how to cook with his left hand. The event transformed his entire persona and helped inspire his future charity work. "Charged," a documentary about his accident and recovery, illustrates his journey into a life that has been changed, but in many ways, remains constant, unscathed, steady, and magical, according to the film's website.

Garcia attended culinary school in Seattle after working in kitchens since the age of 15, per Garcia's website. Upon graduation, he set off on an international adventure as the private chef on luxury yachts during which he really fell in love with cooking, realizing, "a meal is more than just what we eat but an integral part of what builds culture and brings people together."

Eduardo Garcia's connected with nature at a young age

According to Cowboys & Indians, Eduardo Garcia was born to a mother from New York and a Mexican father, the latter of whom was absent for most of his early life. He grew up in California and eventually settled in Montana after his mother moved the family and continued to be a member of Church Universal and Triumphant. As a youngster, Garcia was a rebel, stealing cigarettes and doing drugs by the time he was a teenager (via Montana Outlaw). Eventually, Garcia changed his focus from illegal activity to more wholesome endeavors, like getting in touch with nature and cooking. In an interview with Whalebone Magazine, he recalls an early memory of connecting with the outdoors.

"When we were kids and we grew up, my mom would always arrange a big flotilla of rafts and tubes and gangly kids and let us float down the river and meet us at the beach where the bridge is and where you can take your boats out," Garcia told Whalebone Magazine. "We'd just roast hot dogs. Everyone would whittle their own stick... You have real simple joys."

Eduardo Garcia lost his arm while hunting

Eduardo Garcia's walk in the woods in 2011 seemed like any normal bow-hunting trip until he came across what he thought was a dead bear cub in a large tin can (via Today). Garcia poked the bear with a knife and 2,400 volts of electricity shot up through the can into Garcia's body. He was able to walk until he could find help and was transported to the University of Utah's burn unit. He underwent 18 surgeries in 48 days before he received the news that his left arm, which had been holding the knife, needed to be amputated.

Despite living with PTSD, Garcia seems to stay fairly positive when it comes to his attitude on life, food, and relearning how to cook with his left arm. "I wake up every day just fired up," he told Cowboys & Indians. "I don't think 'Oh, I'm an amputee, my life sucks.' I think, 'I'm Eduardo Garcia. I own a company called Montana Mex. I'm married to this babe in the next room. I've got a snoring dog. ... That sustained high I was looking for as a teenager, it's right here, right now. It's never, 'Oh, another day.' Anything past the here and now is just a bonus."

Eduardo Garcia had to relearn how to cook

Today, Eduardo Garcia is co-owner of Montana Mex, a company that produces sauces, including ketchup, barbecue, and habanero, seasonings that include jalapeño, sweet, and mild chile, and avocado oil. Getting back into the culinary world wasn't easy for Garcia, who had to relearn how to cook. Despite the challenge, Garcia told Today that cooking has been an essential portion of his rehabilitation.

"I had a job to do, and my job was to be an active participant in my own recovery," he told Today. "Relearning, it was everything. ... At one point, I was looking at holding a knife or trying to hold a piece of produce again. You've got a hook. How do you figure that out? And you've just got to step in, step up to the table, and just start participating, just say, 'All right, one at a time,' and it may be a failure or it may be a success."

Eduardo Garcia gives back to the community

Eduardo Garcia is known not only for his cooking skills but also for his charitable endeavors. He is a sponsor, fundraiser, and advocate for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, which serves to help people with physical challenges participate in athletics and remain physically fit. According to County 10, Garcia also participates in Traeger Grills' charitable program, through which he sells Montana Mex products, and Big Sky Youth Empowerment, an organization that aims to help at-risk youth (via Montana Outlaw).

Through his partnership with Big Sky Youth Empowerment, Garcia invited groups of teens to his own garden to learn how to plant, tend, harvest, and cook produce. "I have no interest in just trying to run a business for profit or success in any stereotypical sense," he told Montana Outlaw. "I have the ability to see myself in these kids. What would I have done without food coming into my life, without purpose?" 

Eduardo Garcia thinks living in Montana is magical

Eduardo Garcia has been drawn to the Montana landscape since he was a child, per Cowboys & Indians. Today, in addition to cooking with local ingredients, he relishes foraging, hunting, and gardening. Garcia's constant quest to achieve harmony with nature is an admirable feat for someone who was almost killed while traveling through the wilderness. At the opening of a Montana Outlaw article, the author finds Garcia tending to his raspberry bush, his right arm covered in scrapes. For the chef, it's all part of living with nature in Montana and searching for that sense of harmony. "I just get in there," Garcia said to Montana Outlaw. "You might get a little scratched up, but that's what Mother Nature's all about."

Garcia spoke eloquently about his life in Montana. "The word magic is connected only to things that are positive, rewarding, sweet, enjoyable," he told Whalebone Magazine. "For me, magic is one of those things that is just simply indescribable. ... [Montana is] a dynamic place, and that's what makes it feel magic for me."

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.