Small Business Summer: West Texas brothers bring fine dining to your kitchen with Ratengo

Chef Raul Vasquez learned from some of the best chefs in the world; now he’s bringing his gourmet cuisine back home
Small Business Summer: Ratengo
Published: Jul. 5, 2022 at 8:09 PM CDT
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - “Ratengo is actually Japanese. It means Latino in Japanese,” Chef and owner of Ratengo Raul Vasquez explained. “So what we specify with Ratengo is we use Latin ingredients, we use Asian ingredients, and we back those with French techniques.”

It might sound complicated, but it’s just really good... trust me.

Chef Raul Vasquez left Andrews at age 18 to attend culinary school at Odessa College. By age 20, he was Wolfgang Puck’s sous chef. By age 22, he was an executive chef in Dallas. And now, at age 24, he’s bringing gourmet fine dining back to the Basin with his private catering business Ratengo, after learning alongside some of the best in the world.

“I’m working with guys from Thailand, Singapore, Nepal, L.A., New York City. My chef at the time was from Dallas. And I’m just a young ambitious Chicano from West Texas. So working there I just felt like I had something to prove. Push came to shove, I started as a cook, four months later they called me Chef,” Vasquez said.

Chef’s quick rise to success and admirable work ethic comes as no surprise if you know he’s a West Texan.

“It doesn’t get more hard working than West Texas, here in oil field country. I cannot complain that I’m in a kitchen. I know my dad’s out there working a sixteen hour day, fourteen hour day,” Chef Vasquez said.

And at Ratengo, it’s a family affair. Chef Raul couldn’t do it without his little brother and sous chef, Marcos.

“I didn’t make the best decisions when I lived in Andrews when I was younger,” Marco Salazar said. “I had a lot of people doubting me, a lot of people were like ‘oh, you’re not going to be anything,’ and I was going down the wrong path. I really was. So moving to Dallas was a blessing in my eyes. When it came to getting on the line, getting going, watching people eat your food, licking plates clean, it gives you a certain joy.

“Now I see a career path. I see goals in life. I see being successful in the future. I’m excited for that, that excites me,” Salazar said.

“Man, to work with my brother, who, when I say we come from humble beginnings, I mean we come from very humble beginnings,” Vasquez said. “To have him who understands me and can deal with my neediness at times, it’s an absolute blessing.”

It’s those humble beginnings that continue to drive these two brothers every single day.

“This isn’t harder than the beginning stages of poverty. This isn’t harder than wondering whether mom and dad are gonna keep the lights on. It’s sad to say it, my mom was running her own hair salon and if it wasn’t doing well we had our lights cut off for like a week. It is what it is. I don’t take back those times because those moments, those times where I told them ‘we’re gonna be successful, we’re gonna make it, this hard work’s gonna pay off,’”

It has paid off. Ratengo caters private meals big and small... so the next time you have a special occasion, considering inviting these two into your home for the best meal you’ll ever eat.

Follow Ratengo on Facebook for booking information, @Ratengo or call 432-209-7642.

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