The Restaurant’s Tasty Tacos And Burritos Main Ingredient Is Hand Carved
Tito’s Tacos, at 11222 Washington Place in Culver City, is a beloved local Mexican restaurant where you can always get your favorite Mexican food. It is a staple among restaurants in the area and has been in business since 1959. You know that when you go to Tito’s Tacos that there is a standard of quality that you can taste. Anytime you go by, you can see a line of people in front of the restaurant which says a lot of good things about the restaurant.
Don Victorino was hired originally by Lynne Davidson who is the granddaughter of the Tito’s Tacos Mexican Restaurant Founder, Benjamin Davidson – and she continues to oversee the Commissary and Restaurant today to make sure the original recipes are used and the food tastes absolutely like it did back in 1959. He has been working for Tito’s Tacos for 47 years and spent 28 of those years as their expert meat cutter.
I spoke to Don Victorino about his life’s work at Tito’s Tacos through translator Wilman Madena. It was delightful to speak with such a humble and sincere man who clearly loves what he does. You might not think that one person cuts the meat used in preparing your meal at Tito’s Tacos, but that’s exactly what happens. This is a tribute to this hardworking man who enjoys doing his job and takes satisfaction in his work that eludes many of us in our current world.
Dolores Quintana: When did you start working for Tito’s Tacos?
Don Victorino: I started working first April 1976
Dolores Quintana: Why have you worked there so long?
I love working for Tito’s Tacos and they have always treated me good.
Dolores Quintana: What do you do? What are your responsibilities?
I’ve done a little bit of everything. I started out as a dishwasher, then a cook, a prep cook, and now a meat cutter.
Dolores Quintana: From what I understand you are really kind of the master of cutting meat at Tito’s Tacos. Is that correct?
That’s what they say.
Dolores Quintana: How do you feel about it?
People keep telling me that and they give me that title. I feel very happy, and very blessed because it is something that I never expected. I never expected to get that title. And that title comes from the owner.
Dolores Quintana: I imagine that is something that makes you feel very good.
I am always so respectful, I am always a hard worker for forty-six years. I always give 100%. I always tried to do the best I can.
Dolores Quintana: How long have you been responsible for cutting the meat at Tito’s?
Since 1995 until now.
Dolores Quintana: Wow. So that’s twenty-eight years. You know, artists practice over and over. They paint or play and record music repeatedly and that’s how they get to be so good at what they do. I would think with so much practice, you have it down to your own kind of art.
I feel satisfied because God gives me the strength and health to do what I do and I am very proud to do what I am doing.
Dolores Quintana: Is it hard work?
It is the easiest thing to do for me.
Wilman Madena: I think you can say that practice makes him the best.
Dolores Quintana: I understood that you had recently been thinking about retiring.
Okay, now I start thinking about it.
Dolores Quintana: It seems like it’s become your calling, your life’s work. Is there something that you want to accomplish or is it just doing the work every day that satisfies you?
I feel that if someone else does this job, it won’t be at the same level as I do.
Dolores Quintana: How much meat do you cut each day?
It depends on the day because how much meat you have to cut is different on slow days and busier days. I remember the day when I was very busy that I can remember and the day when he cut the most meat, I cut 700 pounds of meat.
Dolores Quintana: (sharp intake of breath) Really?
Sometimes I do a little bit more, sometimes a little bit less.
Dolores Quintana: But 700 is the maximum that you can remember cutting?
Wilman Madena: That’s a lot of meat.
That’s why the boss says that I am number one.
Dolores Quintana: That’s amazing.
I am very content. I have never had any problems with the manager or the owners.
Dolores Quintana: What does he see for his future with Tito’s?
Everything remains the same. I feel that it is a team effort from everyone. From the owners and all of the employees. Our goal is to continue and to keep going.
Dolores Quintana: What are your personal goals with cutting the cutting of meat and your job specifically?
I feel like I have a lot of knowledge. I’m willing to teach other people but it also depends on whether or not the other people how much effort they want to put into it. They could become as good as I am or better, but it depends on them. It’s up to the new generations.
Dolores Quintana: Where do you actually cut the meat? Do you have to be in a refrigerated area?
Yes, we have a dedicated area, which is a cold area. I have to wear a jacket because it’s really cold. I’ve got special gloves and a special knife. Basically, I work by myself. I’m in a room where no one else goes in. I just bring the meat in.
Wilman Madena: And he brings the magic every day.
Dolores Quintana: Do you have a special knife that he uses?
I use a butcher knife.
Dolores Quintana: What do you like to do in your off time? To relax.
I like to walk. I like to go out and take a long walk to relax.
Dolores Quintana: Do you ever feel tense when you are working or are you just focused on what you are doing?
I don’t feel tense. I am just here and I am responsible for my work.
Dolores Quintana: Do you start early in the morning?
I start at five o’clock in the morning. I walked two miles to get to work every morning that I work.
Dolores Quintana: Wow!