Miguel Gonzalez, AKA Davocadoguy, on the Perfect Avocado
Extolled by New York City’s finest restaurants, from Daniel to Eleven Madison Park and abcV, as well as a growing coterie of home cooks, Miguel Gonzalez, known simply as Davocadoguy, is seemingly everyone’s go-to guy for the best avocados. He keeps his supply consistently stocked and perfectly ripened—a skill that, far from being down to a science, comes from an intuitive sixth sense, as he tells us.
“Long story short, I worked in banking for about eight years or so, and, you know, you get to a point where sometimes you feel that you’re stuck in a position or place where you work, and don’t fulfill yourself to an extent. At the time, I wasn’t involved in the avocado business at all, though I had grown up around it—they grow avocados in my hometown—but then, sort of out of nowhere, an opportunity came up, from people I knew in Mexico, to commercialize berries for sale here in the U.S., but berries are very, very seasonal. In Mexico, they’re produced from August or September through May. After May, you pretty much cross your hands and sit around spending whatever you make. I knew people, some friends of mine, on the avocado side. Avocados became a second product, mainly as a way to cover the off-months of berry season.
I found myself intrigued by the avocados, to be frank. It’s a year-round business in the avocado world, technically—there’s no off-season or peak season, it’s simply a switch from the old season to the new season, which we’re seeing right around now. The avocado world gave me the fulfillment I didn’t get from the banking job, and that I didn’t even get with the berries, which I eventually stopped selling. I wasn’t thinking about volume or sales or money, for that matter. I thought, Okay, this is nice, people really like these. I’ve had people from California say to me, ‘I haven’t had an avocado this good since I was in California. It’s nice when someone tells you they’re really enjoying your product. People are very appreciative of avocados.
I have a theory about avocados and why they’re so popular: It’s because you can eat them with pretty much any food, whether it’s Indian food or Mexican, French, Australian, whatever. It just goes with everything. My wife [Astrid de Place] makes bread, and I just love to have it on toast in the morning. We also eat it on its own, or make it a side dish for whatever we’re having. We eat avocados every day.
How do I get them to be so perfectly ripe? It’s a very simple answer, but it can be very complex. The real answer is: I don’t know how I know. I really don’t. I think it’s innate to me, something that I feel. I don’t have a process or bookkeeping record or anything like that. What is good, when, and how—it just comes because I’ve been around them pretty much every day, on and on and on, checking in on them two to five times a day, as many as needed, to kind of sense things physically, understand them, how they change in colors, in constitution, or even how they smell. These are things that come along to me when I’m in the warehouse.
It’s tough for me to explain. I don’t want to say I’m talented or not talented. It has evolved over time within the process of trials. The reason I say it’s complex is because what I think today can be completely off a week from now. This is simply because the fruit that comes in is different every single week. So, I do have a certain process that I follow, but I’m changing that process every week based on what I see, and in some ways now, based on what I sense. It’s very intuitive. Everybody on my staff now sort of has an idea—I don’t keep secrets from my people. They should know, because our goal is really to give you close-to-perfect avocados, if not perfect, every single week. I can’t do it alone. But it either comes naturally to you, or it doesn’t.”