Coast Monthly sits down with local cooks and food lovers for a chat.
Aurora Galvan grew up in Galveston, first attending St. Mary’s Catholic School before switching to public schools and graduating in 1975 from Ball High School. She then took a clerical course at Galveston College and two weeks after completing it landed a job at the University of Texas Medical Branch. But in 1999, she was back at Galveston College, this time taking classes in culinary arts. It was then that Chef Leslie Bartosh encouraged Galvan to obtain her associate degree. With the backing of her husband, Leo, she left the medical branch and went to school full time.
While still in the program, she applied for a baking job at Mosquito Café on the island’s East End. The original owners were so impressed with her samples, they hired her and agreed to pay her tuition as long as she maintained an “A” average. Leaving when the owners sold the cafe, she worked at several island restaurants, including the venerable Gaido’s, along with Benno’s on the Beach and Mod Coffeehouse.
Eventually, she returned to the medical branch to qualify for retirement benefits and have insurance. Baking is now a hobby she hopes to expand into a part-time career in retirement, she said.
Who is your inspiration or mentor?
Three people — my mom, who was a great Mexican cook; Chef Bartosh inspired me to go for this career; and my husband, Leo, who supported my dream.
What is your first food memory?
My mom making flour tortillas on the comal and slathering butter on them. The smell was wonderful.
What is your biggest food pet peeve?
Changing the ingredients in a dish I go to a restaurant on a regular basis to eat really upsets me. A local restaurant changed an item from pork to chicken in order to be healthier, so I quit going. And I had been a customer for years.
If you could prepare a meal for one person in the whole world, who would it be and what would you serve?
I’ve played tennis my whole life and I’ve always wanted to meet Roger Federer. I would prepare red snapper with a lemon, caper and butter sauce and top it with crabmeat.
When you go out to eat and want to indulge yourself, what do you order?
I’m going to Shearn’s (Seafood and Prime Steaks) and having their filet mignon with béarnaise sauce and roasted asparagus.
Aurora Galvan’s Caesar Parmesan Fish
1⁄3 cup mayonnaise
½ cup Parmesan cheese
1½ tablespoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 small clove garlic
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Salt and pepper fish. Blend remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender, and mix into a smooth paste. Spread paste on fish and roll the fish up from narrow end. (You can use toothpicks to hold together).
Place in 400 F oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.