As happens within many immigrant communities, an emigrant left San Simeon Xipetzinco, in the Mexican state of Tlaxcala, and landed in a specific area: Teton Valley. Soon, others followed. In 1997, at age 17, Juan Alcántara was one of them.
He worked his way up from a novice line cook in Teton Village — they were so in need of help, they were willing to hire even the inexperienced — to a sous chef for Vail Resorts. He worked under different chefs, eventually managing resort restaurants, bars, catering, room service and more.
“That’s my life,” he said, “cooking.”
Now 36, Alcántara is the chef of Provisions, a “local kitchen” in Driggs. Founder David Treinis, who started the restaurant just a few years ago, is now handing it over to his chef, who’s ready for the opportunity. They’ve worked out a deal in which the chef will eventually own the place outright.
Alcántara said he’s especially ready to focus on the restaurant, and make it the best he can.
“For 13-14 years, I’ve been working two jobs, until now,” Alcántara said.
Provisions has been drawing plenty of business — especially in the summer — with its diner-meets-cantina menu. Alcántara likes to give people what they’ve asked for; fresh ingredients and value.
He originally took the job as chef inside the building (back when it was Teton Waters Ranch Grill) for one reason: so he wouldn’t have to drive the pass every day. Since Treinis bought the space and started Provisions, the two have created plenty of jobs and a well-reviewed experience right in the heart of Teton Valley.
“Along with Hospitality Manager Brianna Comstock, Juan and I have already begun brainstorming ways in which we can expand Provisions’ offerings,” Treinis said in a release. “First and foremost, we want to begin this new chapter by exploring ways to enhance the dining experience our guests have come to expect and enjoy.”
Alcántara said he plans to expand on last year’s opening of the back patio area, and begin offering service to those who don’t get a coveted seat by closing time (2 p.m.) each day. He said he’s looking into offering a grill menu out back each afternoon while the inside staff cleans up from the morning.
It’s not just locals and visitors who’ve appreciated the cooking at Provisions, which ranges from classic breakfast and brunch items to more traditional Mexican fare, like huevos rancheros and posole.
“The health department guy, he actually eats here when he’s in town,” Alcántara said. “And I’ve seen lots of chefs come in here and eat.”
He credits his dedicated staff, as well.
“I don’t want to take credit for everything here. They’re a big part of this place.”
Though Alcántara says he’s now achieved something he never predicted, he admits that it wasn’t the easiest path.
“You can do everything that you want, but the path is very hard,” he said.
But he’s got some strong motivation. Should he ever return to Mexico, he hopes to have something to show for his nearly 20 years in the States.
“The last thing I want is to ever go back and have my family be like, ‘Look at this loser,’” he said.
Thus far, he doesn’t need to worry.