By Inez Barberio, Photos by Amanda Elkins
Award winning actor of the hit ABC TV series ‘Castle’ Jon Huertas shares with us his newest endeavor with his Cali-Mex restaurant ‘Clutch’ and his childhood dream to work with Ricky Schroder and Tom Cruise.
As a United States Air Force veteran of Desert Storm, actor Jon Huertas has made a name for himself since separating from the military. Best known for his roles as Detective Esposito in the drama ‘Castle’ and Sgt. Tony “Poke” Espera in the critically acclaimed HBO miniseries ‘Generation Kill,’ Huertas took on a new challenge with the opening of his restaurant ‘Clutch ‘in Venice Beach, California.
Huertas describes the cuisine as Cali-Mex, teaming up with partners Miguel Garcia and Oscar Hermosillo, the well-known founder of Venice Beach Wines. Far from the traditional Mexican restaurant, you won’t find burritos on the menu, but you will find smoked duck!
“Its Mexican food, its Mexican inspired. We have a lot of spices, we barbeque, and we smoke the food a lot in a smoker. The rubs and marinades are Mexican inspired. We serve anything from oysters to the fish of the day. We only have a couple of tacos on the menu. It’s more fresh and hearty. Great sides, two great kale salads – you don’t find that in any Mexican restaurant!”
Being new to the restaurant business, Huertas acknowledges that he is not afraid to learn from others.
“My partners are the ones that are experts. They are great partners. They are smart and have been in it a lot longer than I have. I’m learning the whole restaurant business from them. It’s great! It’s fun to be involved and to have a place where I can eat for free!”
While Huertas loves the local restaurants in California, when he visits New York, he always makes a visit to the ‘Shake Shack.’
“I’m a big fan of hamburgers. I love the ‘Shake Shack.’ Just one of those places I have to go when I am in New York. I think that is the best burger in New York.”
Coast to coast, Huertas has played many different roles in his career. His acting career began on the teen show ‘Moesha’ followed by ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch.’ With his youthful Puerto Rican genes, Huertas did not get to play an adult role until he was about 35-years-old. He finds that his youthfulness comes from within.
“It’s all about how you carry yourself. If you treat yourself like you are older, then you are going to be older. If you treat yourself like you are a kid, then you will be a kid longer.”
Looking on Huertas’ Instagram page, you will find many silly and goofy videos of himself.
“Doing this job, you can’t help being a kid. You are constantly pretending. When I first moved to LA and started acting, someone said to me, ‘The worst thing you can do as an actor is grow up.’ Kids are just free. They just go for it. They don’t let anybody or anything hold them back.”
Working in Hollywood where people are constantly pretending, it can be easy to lose oneself. However, Huertas displays humility and self-confidence.
“I think people who find themselves not to be as free put their walls up. I see a lot of people that have careers that are going well, get sidetracked, don’t better themselves. As an artist I think it’s important to always better yourself. You are always studying and learning, always being a constant student of life, a student of the craft.
How do you do that if you are not tapping into that beautiful spirit that you have, the part of you that loves to learn, loves to absorb? I see people in Hollywood that forget about it and it affects them in life, it affects them in work. I try to find that part of me. That youthfulness, that innocence, so that I can continue to absorb to learn from life, to learn from people, and to always be getting better.”
A part of Huertas’ journey in life is his passion to help protect the animal wildlife and educate inner city and underprivileged kids of wildlife within the United States. He will receive the honor as the National Celebrity Ambassador to the Wildlands Network, an organization that works to preserve the country’s wildlands and wildlife.
“Working with Wildlands is something that I am very passionate about because we try to help. We can create land bridges for animals so they can move around with far less chance of getting run over or killed by homeowners or landowners.”
As the Wildlands Network work to create four continental Wildways for the animals to roam more freely, Huertas also wants to help at risk kids learn about the wild animals that live within North America.
“You don’t need to go to Africa to see wildlands or wildlife. We have an abundance of that beautiful, amazing wildlife in this country. A lot of kids don’t have access to it. What I want to do is take them on overnights, take them to the wilderness, and show them the amazing incredible animals that we have in our country.”
Aside from his charity work, acting, and food, Huertas is also working on a music career. His record label MidRats, a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment is currently working on a video for his single ‘Video’.
“I do sing. I do Urban Pop, but like all kinds of music. Hip Hop, R&B, and Rock influence me. One of the most important things for me is to bring joy through my musical performance because I am an actor. I just love doing musical theater.”
Huertas grew up with musical theater and while an actor, music will always be within him.
“My job, part of my psyche is for my audience to like me, like what I do. Pop music is what I love to do. I love singing. Pop music now is so much more complex than what it was when I was a teenager. Gwen Stefani is Pop, you know. She is complex, she is great! I think Pop music is all becoming more interesting.”
Living life to the fullest, Huertas continues to challenge himself and find new talents to add to his impressive life accomplishments. When asked what else he would like to do in his life, Huertas initially pauses for a moment.
“Oh man, the list is too huge to even think of it. I’ve been working on getting my helicopter license for a long time. That is something that I want to finish and get done. This is kind of a dream that has to come true.”
He continues to add, “I would like to direct a film. I’ve got one in development that I am working on. Hopefully that will come to fruition next year.”
Spanning an acting career of over 20 years, Huertas has still yet to work with his childhood dream.
“There is one in particular that I have wanted to work with since I was a little kid, Ricky Schroder. I grew up idolizing him as an actor. I thought he was a phenomenal actor. I did get an opportunity to work on ‘NYPD Blue’ while he was on there, but we didn’t have a scene together. I would really like to do something cool with him.”
Aside from the ‘Silver Spoons’ alum, there is one other actor that Huertas would love to share the big screen with.
“Of course I want to work with Tom Cruise. I can see myself in a ‘Mission Impossible’ movie, yes. You have to respect his work ethic. He is and always will be a student of life. The kind of work that he does, what he does with his career, it’s just impressive. He does a lot of his own stunts that I love to do as well. He’s somebody that I can probably learn a lot from.”
Huertas certainly has the youthfulness and energy of a kid. It won’t be long before we see him flying by with his next venture in life!
You can try to keep up with Jon Huertas on his website at www.thejonhuertas.com.