High school was fun for me (that’s rare, right?). I had enough friends to keep me on the verge of trouble; for the most part, though, we skied, worked teenaged jobs, chased boys. Ours was a class of around 800, a big enough crowd to enable a mediocre student like me to hide from smart, with-it kids like Troy Garza. If he ever spoke a word to me, I probably ran. That kid was simply a force of nature. While I was a head taller than Troy, he was light years ahead of me. Troy was Going Places. Now as middle aged adults, I am STOKED that we’re Facebook friends. He’s a voracious cook! I picked up his recipe for Chicken Breast/White Potato Chili Verde (Larry had seconds, said he wished I had made more). Once I cooked this, I asked Troy to clarify some things for me. Yup, he certainly did go places…
Patti: Troy, were you REALLY a choreographer for A Chorus Line, or is that a myth?
Troy: I was in the original London Cast of A Chorus Line which opened in 1976. After the tour, I became Dance Captain (the person who maintains the choreography and holds all company rehearsals and auditions) for the Broadway company in 1977. After the show closed in 1990 I directed a lot of subsequent productions including the one at Long Beach CLO in 1995. Last one I did was in Munich in 2002.
T: I was the house choreographer at SNL from 1990 to 1999 and did about 50 episodes, appearing as a dancer or extra in several of them. I appear on the Swayze episode in the “Dirty Square Dancing” sketch partnering Jan Hooks before Patrick enters. Also choreographed and danced in the big Candice Bergen “I’m Hosting” production-number along with fellow chorus boys Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz, Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey. Must admit it was a fun gig. I’m retired from choreographing now.
P: Where/how did you learn to cook so well?
T: I was always able to cook; genetic predisposition? We were a family-cooking family. My mom started working when I was a fourth-grader, and I remember doing most of my own food prep from then on. Throughout the years I always cooked for myself and my friends, and studied and learned about spices and techniques. Did a little catering. After retiring from showbiz I took some classes at a fancy local restaurant and ended up as a cook and instructor there and producer for a few TV segments they did (Roker on the Road, etc.). After I left in 2005 I hired my Cordon-Bleu trained colleague Rebecca Reilly to coach me in technique for 100 hours in my own kitchen. Now I cook for myself and my long-time partner Guy, and for the occasional visitors we get up here. I like to practice and eat the results.
P: The tattoos… any food-related?
T: No food-related tattoos, at least not yet. My big back piece is a tribute to my two dogs Puma and Pelee, both now deceased. I started in in 2007 and it has yet to be completed.
(*note to my readers, my first Facebook contact with Troy was due to his pug dog photo. Our pugs Zoe and Sake are now deceased, too.)
Chicken Breast/White Potato Chili Verde by Troy Garza
(His instructions were very chef-like and in paragraph form so the following is my reworking. I didn’t peel my potatoes.)
- 4 poblanos
- 2 onions, peeled and cut in half
- 8 cloves unpeeled garlic
- 8 tomatillos
- 6 scallion bottoms (white part)
- Handful of fresh cilantro
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into small cubes
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 white potatoes, peeled and diced
On a cookie sheet, roast the poblanos, onions, garlic, tomatillos and scallions in a 350 degree F. oven for 15 minutes or until soft. Remove core and skin from poblanos; squeeze out the garlic cloves. Put all roasted vegetables along with cilantro and scallion tops (greens) into a food processor and puree until smooth.
In a large dutch oven, brown the chicken cubes in olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Add chicken broth and vegetable puree, bring to a simmer and cook for half an hour, covered halfway with the lid. Add potatoes and cook until fork tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve garnished with Monterey Jack cheese and cilantro. Makes four servings.