Chef Victor Mariel Barboza Jr.

When did you know that you wanted to be a Chef?

My father, Victor Manuel Barboza, was the driving force behind my career. He became ill with diabetes at the young age of 26 and could not keep his disease under control. He subsequently lost his sight, kidneys, and sense of touch amongst a myriad of other things.

His blindness did not deter him from continuing his life. With his blindness, he would go to Vegas, to school (braille institute), AND cook. I was about 8 years old when I took an interest in cooking. By then, my father was fully blind.

It was at that moment I understood the power of food and what it can do, not only to the human body, but the soul.

I remembered how he would struggle to cook, but he would never give up. Eventually I mustered up the courage and asked if I could help cook his food. He hesitantly said yes and slowly but surely he showed me how to make scrambled eggs. I didn’t know how to season properly at the time, so they were salty. But with practice I became better. Then one day, I was cooking all of his breakfast and I remember setting the plate down in front of him. I was expecting a sour face with kind words of “how good it was” (I knew he was lying to spare my feelings).

When he took the first bite, it was almost as if his sight had returned for a moment and he could see the difference. For a moment he had forgotten where he was at, he had forgotten his illnesses, he had forgotten his worries and all he could do was enjoy his simple scrambled eggs I made for him. It was at that moment I understood the power of food and what it can do, not only to the human body, but the soul. I knew then that cooking would be the most important thing in my life – it was all thanks to my great father!

What are you bringing to your new role?

Leadership. It is easy to get comfortable in a management position and simply tell people what to do (that’s called being a boss). I lead by example and show my people how and what to do; my goal is to be a better leader but I can only do so by being in the forefront of my kitchen crew.

What do you like most about O’Malley’s on Main?

I like how O’Malley’s has a tight-knit group of staff and regular clientele. It allows the restaurant to have a sense of community and that is something wonderful to have.

What do you feel is the biggest challenge at O’Malley’s?

Honestly, the only challenge I have is adjusting to the smaller size of the restaurant. I am used to doing high volume work and preparation. Other than that, I believe we have the right staff and management to handle whatever comes our way, anything is possible with the right attitude and people.

What are you most proud of?

I am proud to say that I was my father’s personal caregiver when he was alive and it is due to him that I am successful not just in my career, but in my life. Thank you, father.

What is your favorite dish at O’Malley’s?

My favorite dish at O’Malley’s is the corned beef sandwich. It has a nice balance of acidity, sweetness, and saltiness that pairs well with a chardonnay, pinot grigio, or pale ale.

What is the most important part about being a Chef?

I wish to create memories through sight, smell, and most importantly taste.

The most important part of being a Chef is to stay humble and not to become arrogant. It feels great to receive compliments and to see the joy you can produce in other people with your food. You learn to build confidence and take risks which is a double edged sword. It takes bravery to be risky, but it is usually arrogance that dominates the decision if you are not humble.

I am grateful for every person that comes into the restaurant because they are giving up their most precious thing anyone can give: their time. Therefore it is my job to ensure they have a wonderful time with their food. I don’t just want to create dishes, I wish to create memories through sight, smell, and most importantly taste.

140 Main St, Seal Beach, CA 90740