We had the good fortune of connecting with Michael Tavarez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michael, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I consider myself to be very courageous with the moves that I make. Everything I have ever done in my life & career has been about taking risks. As some would say “There is no reward in life without risk.” I am always in competition with myself and always want to do better and take things to the next level, but sometimes taking things to the next level involves big risks. I’m big on quotes for motivation and a quote that resonates with me is “Successful people take big risks knowing that they might fall hard, But they might succeed more than they ever dreamed.” The last thing I ever want to do is have an idea and not give it a shot. Risk is way better than regret down the line. One thing I don’t regret is moving to Dallas from NY. I ran a very successful solar business there and decided to take a risk and move that business to Texas. A market I have never been in but it was fresh. The day the business opportunity was presented to me to move to Dallas I immediately said yes. I took the risk, seeking reward and 21 days later I was living in Dallas with no family, no friends just me and my Fiance Jennifer who trusted me and took that risk with me. We have been here for roughly 5 years now and its the best decision I have ever made. The solar business was booming, we made tons of friends & ended up really liking it out here.
Unfortunately, the pandemic hit, and my solar business was hit as well. The pandemic was hard!!!!! Every day I would sit there thinking to myself what am I going to do next!!! I need to think of something ASAP! Then it hit me. Its time to take another risk. I am a Dominican American and the entire time I was living in Dallas up to this point there were no Dominican Street Food Restaurants anywhere. I decided to create my own brand/Pop-up Restaurant which today is Picadera DFW. This was a huge risk for me being that I had no culinary background & living in a city that was named restaurant city of the year by Bon Appetit in 2019. The positive side is for those previous years I was always calling my mother to teach me how to cook all the Dominican food I missed from back home. I once again put myself in a position where I didn’t know what was going to happen in a market where people had no clue what Dominican food was & personally I would barely see any Dominican people in general. But of course, me being the risk-taker that I am I went for it! Picadera events have turned into a place where Dominicans can feel at home, enjoying their cultures food, their music & each other’s company. Today that risk I took has translated into something more beautiful than I ever imagined. We are doing something BIG for our culture and there’s nothing better to see than the smiles on people’s faces at our events, thanking us for what we’re doing & having a great time, and meeting other Dominicans, when they thought they were also the only ones. This was the best risk I ever took and the reward is even better.
What should our readers know about your business?
Picadera DFW is a Dominican Street Food Pop-up Restaurant. We go to different bars, breweries, cideries, etc around Dallas and put together a fun-filled event. Our business started off by simply just selling Tres-Leches Cupcakes which started the growth of Picadera. From there I started experimenting with popular Dominican Street Food dishes that you would find in the streets of NYC & Dominican Republic & started doing events with rotating menus.
I feel like what sets me apart from others is that I put love into what I’m making. I get authentic Dominican spices shipped into Dallas. This gives it that flavor we Dominicans are used to. On top of it once I nail the authentic recipes I always throw my own little twist on it to make it my own. I focus a lot on presentation as well. Many times you can go to a Dominican Street Food vendor In DR or NYC and they don’t care about presentation. I like to give our customers the full experience & create authentic street food dishes but elevated. There’s no reason why our cuisine shouldn’t be on the map like many other countries and that’s one of my main goals. To put us on the map!
What I am most proud of is how much I’ve grown as a chef. Heck at the beginning of this all I was so nervous because I didn’t have the culinary background that I thought I needed to succeed. The funny part is when I launched Picadera I immediately hashtagged myself as #iamnotachef . Today I am so proud of what I have accomplished that I have done away with that hashtag and I’m owning the title of a chef. A self-taught chef that is. I can tell you it wasn’t easy and the number one lesson I needed to learn was to take constructive criticism. Which I did! I definitely challenged myself in making dishes that I never in a million years thought I could make & once I nailed that then the next step was figuring out how to perfect them and give them my own touch
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
All my friends and family know I am the official tour guide! The one that pushes you to go try the next place & then the next place after that no matter how tired you are. I have my google maps all set up with pins of places to go & they are all categorized. I love showing people a good time especially friends and family that come to visit me from NY. Being that we are in Texas its a must to take them to BBQ & Taco spots. One of my favorite BBQ spots in the city is Terry Blacks. When it comes to Tacos I really love what the people at Taco Y Vino in Bishop Arts are doing. I love Wine and when you pair them with delicious tacos I’m sold. Perrys Steak house is another place I would definitely take guests for their Famous 7 Finger Pork Chops, its soooo good! Besides the traditional Texas cuisine, two of my favorite restaurants are Niwa in Deep Ellum for some Japanese BBQ & Uchiba in Uptown for some amazing sushi. For Drinks, I really enjoy hitting up speakeasies & mixologist bars around the city like Akai, La Viuda Negra, Bowen House, Midnight Rambler, Parliament & Tipsy Alchemist to name a few. If the weather permits I love hitting the lake, spending the day out there on a boat, hitting little elm beach or spending the day at the Hilton Anatole Jade Waters which reminds me of a mini resort in Dominican Republic.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to give a huge shoutout to the bars, breweries, local foodies, bloggers, our customers. family, friends & finally THE Picadera Crew Jennifer, Jason, Ernie & Omar for making this all possible. Without every single one of you, Picadera would be nothing!
Rafael Canales Instagram @TXFoodieMama Steve Bither Photographer Shot images at Deep Ellum Distillery