01/23/2013 07:46 am ET Updated Mar 25, 2013

Jesse Perez Loves San Antonio

A San Antonio native, Jesse Perez has traveled all over the U.S. as a chef and at long last has come home to San Antonio, where he will open Arcade Midtown Kitchen on February 12. Arcade is at the Pearl Brewery and was just named one of the "40 Most Anticipated" openings by Eater. A University of Michigan graduate with a specialty in ethnicity and culture, Perez was formerly the Chef de Cuisine at Francesca's at Sunset.


Dear San Antonio,

When I smell the toasted flour of a freshly placed tortilla on the comal or see your picturesque missions, I know I'm home. Your air has a certain consistency and I cherish the deep breath I take each and every time I come back to you.

I grew up in the south central quadrant off your map, running at first, then biking or driving across your ever-growing grid, and I had a hard time leaving you for the very first time for school. I came back to you as often as I could. One time, I missed you so much that I made a dinner, to honor you, for my newfound friends and made the signature flavors that reminded me so much of your perfume. That was as close as I could get.

I was with you for six years, watching your growth and using you to guarantee mine. You provided others and me with beautiful landscapes for wine and food tastings that made it so much more difficult to leave you again for Atlanta. I left you, but never forgot you. It was a great career move, to Atlanta and people told me not to come back to you. That it was better if I stayed away from you and moved on. To be honest, I always knew I would come back to you. You and I had history and that heart to heart talk we had when I was building my career with you. But, I left again, this time for California.

To be honest with you, San Antonio, I do wish you had more of California's beautiful weather and the picturesque drive to work showcasing the Pacific Ocean on my left and the snowcapped mountains on my right. The air was cooler, but it just didn't feel the same for me as yours did each time. The markets were inspiring, the waves mesmerizing, and the walks on the beach unforgettable. But I came back to you every chance I had, to breathe.

I had planned on a long-term relationship with California and that the affinity for each other would let me grow fonder for what she had to offer. But silently you called for me and I continued to proclaim my wishes on returning to you. As you know, it was always understood between us that I would be back to you and provide each other with support to grow. So I left California for you. This time, I'm yours for good.

It's our time now San Antonio. I'm back because of you. Because of what you have done, the attraction that you have sustained and your perfume, which is more radiant than ever.

Now that we are back together, this time for good San Antonio, I'm excited about our future. I am looking forward to showing you what I have learned being away from you, although it did strengthened and prepare me for our reunion. You have lured me back here and I am inspired to invest my soul and energy to you only asking for you to return the favor.

Always and Forever,