CULVER CITY, Calif. – Freshly prepared Oaxacan dishes with nothing frozen or store bought. That's the tradition chef Epy Garcia is bringing from his hometown to Los Angeles at his restaurant EK Valley.

He moved to L.A. from Mexico over 20 years ago, working in various restaurants, but knew he always wanted to be his own boss.

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“I worked in many, many restaurants, but also, I thought, 'I want to do this myself because that’s what the family is doing, business,'” said Garcia.

Garcia’s father owns a restaurant in Mexico, so he followed suit by opening his own, introducing Oaxacan cuisine to the community. According to Garcia, Oaxacan is more spicy and unique than traditional Mexican food. It was a no-brainer to cook this cuisine in his restaurant.

“But what kind of Mexican food? And I said, ‘Oaxaca,’ and he said, ‘Oaxaca OK!’” said Garcia.

He keeps his food fresh and consistent. He doesn’t even own a freezer. Quality is the most important factor.

“I go to the market every day. I buy the meat, the fish, and the shrimp,” said Garcia.

His favorite dish to make with the fresh produce is the mole. It brings him right back to his childhood, with memories of his mom in the kitchen making it for birthdays.

“Oh my gosh, when I make mole my mind goes back to when I’m three-years-old. When my mom makes it. Oh my god I love mole,” said Garcia.

His family recipes cover the menu and his entire family is involved in the restaurant. Cooking and feeding guests is a true passion for him.

“I spend 14, 15 hours a day and I love it,” said Garcia.

Try Garcia’s labor of love for yourself at EK Valley on 6121 Washington Blvd. Culver City, CA 90232.