“His sauces are what separate his creations from any other Tex-Mex restaurant you might find in your backyard.”
People call him The Sauce King, and though Rogelio Reyes’ sauces are certainly worthy of royal honors, our humble chef prefers to simply go by Rojo. Sure, we’re known for our atmosphere and beautiful view over Lake Travis, but after you try Rojo’s authentic Oaxacan culinary creations, you realize Iguana Grill is so much more than just a pretty view.
Reyes was born in the Southwest Mexico City of Los Reyes in 1954. He is the son of Juan Reyes and Anita Godoy. The oldest of 12 children, Rojo (the nickname given to him by our owners 18 years ago) has always been interested in the culinary arts.
Rojo began his culinary career at home helping his mother with chores such as gardening, milking animals for dairy, and preparing animals for meals on their farm in Mexico. After finishing school, Rojo joined the Mexican Armed Forces as a cook from 1972-1976 and learned the art of cooking for the masses.
After serving in the Mexican Police Department, Rojo decided he wanted more for his family and moved to the United States in 1991. His first job was at Ricardo’s Italian Restaurant in downtown Austin, a slight shift from his Oaxacan culinary roots. This job helped broaden his horizons, teaching him new cooking techniques. He left Ricardo’s for a “chance to learn finer dining and attention to detail” when he began working at Jeffrey’s and The Shore Line Grill. He was able to hone his skills in finer seafood and steaks, with an emphasis on the creative plating side of the culinary arts, something he is grateful to have learned to this day. Here, he was introduced to Iguana Grill’s Managing Partner, Kevin Harney. They instantly hit it off as friends and co-workers, sharing the same love for Mexican dining and atmosphere. They found a perfect place to let Rojo’s beautiful creations shine when the Iguana Grill was formed to bring touches of Tex-Mex to an authentic Oaxacan menu.
Rojo has worked at the Iguana Grill since it opened in 1995. Although the restaurant has gone through menu changes over the years, the core of Rojo’s culinary experience and expertise remains vividly intact. Rojo’s sauces are what separate the Iguana Grill and his menu from all of the other Tex-Mex restaurants you might find in Austin. Rojo has won many awards for his sauces, including 1996 “Best Salsa” from the Lake Travis View, and 1996 “Best Specialty Sauce” for his Mole. From 2001-2003, Rojo won the creative sauce category at the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival. Because he won three years in a row, he was graciously asked not to compete the following year in that category in order to give “everyone else a try” and was inducted into the Austin-Chronicle “Hall of Flame.” Rojo looks forward to meeting all of you and for you to come out, try his food and meet the Man Behind The Sauce!