Mexican-born restaurateur German Osio grew up playing with pots and pans rather than Tonka trucks. When his family went out for dinner, the precocious youngster would tour restaurant kitchens and have chefs autograph each menu like it was a Broadway Playbill. “I’m a menu thief,” Osio quips. “Some I take for research and development, others for memories.” His current collection includes more than 1,000 surreptitiously pilfered menus.
Though his great-grandfather was reportedly a chef at the Royal Palace of Madrid, Osio is the first in his generation to venture into the cutthroat culinary industry. “I’m the black sheep of the family,” he says. “No one else has anything to do with this crazy business.” Determined to open his own restaurant, Osio peeled potatoes and washed dishes at local restaurants when he was a teenager and later studied at Les Roches International School of Hotel Management in Switzerland. His efforts paid off.
At just 34 years old, Osio has amassed a restaurant mini-empire of four celebrated Phoenix-area restaurants: Local Bistro, Central Bistro, vegetarian-friendly Kale & Clover and SumoMaya Mexican-Asian Kitchen, the last of which was a PHOENIX magazine Best New Restaurant award winner in 2014. A fifth concept inspired by his Mexico City roots is slated to open next spring.
Though trained as a chef, Osio typically outsources that part of his operation, recruiting culinary stars like Herb Wilson (SumoMaya) to launch menus. Still, Osio remains a hands-on owner. “I have ADD and I could never imagine myself sitting behind a desk for 12-hour days,” he says. “I like running around to the restaurants. It’s like having a giant party at your house on a daily basis.”
Osio visits each restaurant at least twice weekly and is ready to step in at a moment’s notice should a dishwasher fail to report or a prep cook call in sick. An admitted workaholic, the affable entrepreneur finds it difficult to balance his professional and personal lives. “I now have Sundays off,” Osio says, “because I was given a death threat from my girlfriend and family that if I didn’t I’d be on the street with no one to take care of me.”
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