As chef of Northwestern’s chapter of Gamma Phi Beta, Eddie Gonzalez has spent many hours stirring, slicing, preparing and baking in the sorority house’s kitchen. His journey to get there, however, began far from Evanston.
As a boy, Gonzalez gained cooking experience at his family’s restaurant in Antigua. Even though he began developing his culinary chops there, he was never an employee. Instead, his mother reminded him to keep his priorities in line.
“My mom told me, ‘You can be a cook, but you have to finish your school,’” Gonzalez says.
At the age of 14, he cooked his very first dish, and since then, Gonzalez has brought a knack for all things edible to Gamma Phi Beta. Even though he lives with his wife and two children in Des Plaines, he says the sorority is special to him.
“I say all the time, I have two families,” Gonzalez says. “Gamma Phi Beta is one of my families.”
Weinberg junior Maria Theodore, who has lived in the sorority house for nearly two years, praises Gonzalez and his cooking, which spans from paninis to kebobs.
“The food is excellent…we feel really spoiled,” she says. “He’s just a sweet, great guy.”
Gonzalez tries to keep the meals healthy. He opts for fresh foods and steers clear of anything deep-fried. Instead of serving white rice, he makes brown rice.
Jacinda Ratcliffe, another member of Gamma Phi Beta, says that when she dines on Gonzalez’s fare, she walks away satisfied.
“It’s always really well-balanced,” says Ratcliffe, a School of Communication sophomore. “I feel like when I’m going and getting dinner, I’m getting protein and greens and grain.”
Gonzalez says his favorite memory from Gamma Phi Beta is an employee appreciation dinner that the sorority house residents organized.
“It was a great feeling to sit down and eat while enjoying their company,” he says.
Gonzalez not only graces his Gamma Phi Beta family with palatable dishes, but he also cooks for his own family on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. He says he makes two turkeys for Thanksgiving – one “traditional” turkey and another one stuffed with chorizo. For Christmas, he likes to serve up fish such as mahi mahi.
Despite his Guatemalan roots, Gonzalez has lived in the Chicago area ever since he came to the United States at the age of 18. He later honed his cooking skills at St. Augustine College in Chicago, where he graduated from in 1998. He says he likes feeding large groups of people because they become excited when they eat his food.
“[It] makes me happy when they love my food,” Gonzalez says.
Gonzalez hopes to keep improving his work as chef of Gamma Phi Beta.
“My goal is to continue providing an increasingly high quality of food and service for many years to come,” Gonzalez says.