Meet Chef Harold
How did you get into owning your business?
My father ran bathtub production and I grew up watching him and helping him in the shop. It's always been my dream to run my own business.
How did you start cooking?
I clearly remember the first time I just decided to make a meat stew, imitating my mom's, and the entire family liked it. It was 9 or 10 at that time. But it wasn't until after college and working for a few years as a manager that I had a chance to pause and ask myself: what do I really love to do? What do I want to continue doing as a career? and somehow cooking came up as a natural choice.
What influenced you as a chef?
I think it's mostly the cities where I lived. Caracas, where I grew up, Miami, and New Orleans are all cosmopolitan cities with a rich restaurant culture, and it gave me an opportunity to work with native Italian, Spanish, French, Japanese, Peruvian, Mexican chefs and to learn how to blend several cuisines. I love fusion!
What's your favorite dish on the menu?
I love traditional dishes, such as pabellon criollo or arepa rumbera, but I also like my New Orleans influenced dishes, such as French Quater beef in red wine sauce, or Cajun Shrimp.
What makes you happy?
Watching people enjoy my food :)
Global flavors, local ingridients
What does Avila mean?
The name for Avila Grill comes from the Mount Avila, a center mountain of the national park surrounding Caracas, Harold's native city.
Venezuelan cuisine is an amalgam of European, West African, and Native American cuisines. Dishes like arepas are some of the earliest foods eaten by humanity.
Some Avila history
Harold started Avila Grill as a weekend stand at the Westbank market, with only a plastic table and a portable grill. Warm reception led to regular popups in New Orleans area bars and anchoring at a French Quarter kitchen. After three years in the Quarter, a casual full service restaurant opened in Mandeville.