Before his office was a Major League Baseball stadium, Chef Javier Rosa discovered his passion for cooking under the lights of a much smaller setting.
"When I was a kid, my mom would set a stool by the stove and would show me all the secrets I needed to know to be able to cook the way I do today," Rosa said about his childhood in Puerto Rico.
While he can reach the stove on his own now, Rosa said his mother's early cooking lessons continue to resonate today.
"I’m still recreating her recipes for important occasions or events," Rosa shared. "She’s the reason I’m here doing what I do today. The way she taught me, the time she took to explain the recipes, and the patience she had gave me the confidence to go into this career and gave me the passion I needed to be successful in it."
Those formative memories made Rosa hungry for more. From his home in Puerto Rice to kitchens across the planet, Rosa recalls how his travels have informed his culinary career.
"Every place has something that I still treasure in my heart, but a few hold a special place, including Saudi Arabia for the kindness of the people, the Bahamas for the beauty of their beaches, Thailand for the freshness and Umami flavors in their cuisine, Peru for the diversity and unexpected surprises their cuisine has, and Spain, for the simplicity of their food and the focus on flavors. Each place has something that I still think about today."
That global experience helped land him a lead role here in the Pacific Northwest. Rosa was recently named Executive Chef for the Seattle Mariners, creating meals for the team and overseeing the food experience for fans.
"I was excited and proud," Rosa said about joining the team. "Ever since the day I interviewed here, I always felt that the Mariners wanted to offer the best food and beverage options to their fans. They care for the quality of the food, and for me, as a chef, it was important to feel that. It is a winning partnership to be working together with one common goal – offer the best-in-class food and beverage experience for our fans."
He may be new to the Mariners, but Rosa is a familiar chef to the professional world of sports, having worked with The Brooklyn Nets and NBA Playoffs, the US Open and Super Bowl LIV.
So what is it about the combination of food and sports that drives Rosa?
"The adrenaline, the excitement, and the unexpected," Rosa describes. "I love sports and working in this environment. It makes me wake up each day and be better than the previous day. This is a business that you walk into in the morning, and you never know what your day will be like. There are many twists and turns, and you always need to be ready for anything. That's the excitement I love when I walk into the building."
Rosa is grateful to combine his passions at T-Mobile Park while also celebrating his heritage in the dishes he designs for the team.
"It has been fun to bring my Latin-Caribbean roots and cook from the heart. I cook all my mom’s recipes that she used to cook for our family. Now, the players have authentic Latin food to eat and I’m so proud to cook for them each game and see them enjoy each bite they try."
Rosa shared he loves to prepare, "Anything braised or that takes a long time to cook is my favorite because then all the flavors come together so nicely. For example, bone-in short ribs, oxtail, ossobuco, lamb, and pork shanks are some of my go-to’s. Nothing is better than a one-pot meal in which you have to build the flavors before enjoying it."
So what does a chef like to eat when he's not cooking for others? Rosa described his comfort food and it sounds like fare you might find at a ballpark, "Buttermilk pickle juice brined fried chicken or a house-made burger with caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, and truffle mayo on a toasted buttery brioche bun."
When Rosa gets a break from preparing plates, he's out exploring his new home.
"I love Seattle - from the warmth of the people to the amazing food scene and believe it or not, the rain. I always have liked the rain and you definitely get a lot living here."
In between dodging raindrops, Rosa reveals where the Mariners' new Executive Chef likes to eat, "Tavolata has amazing Italian food and great drinks; Fonda La Catrina has great Mexican food and cocktails; and I love Shiro’s Sushi because they have an incredible Omakase dinner. I'm definitely looking forward to trying many more places soon."
Home and plates are familiar themes for Chef Javier Rosa. So the Mariners' home plate feels right where he belongs.