Who We Are

The idea behind ‘Who We Are’ is to shine a light on yourself and other food service workers in our county and to blur the lines between ‘us’ and ‘them’. We are a family of dedicated workers and I encourage you to celebrate our connections rather than focus on our differences. We are all an important part of the world-renowned culinary scene in Portland and it’s time we see Who We Are.

JUAN and crew


Type of food service: Swanky Steak House


Originally from: Napa, CA


How you got here: My grandma owned a restaurant in Baja. It was a flautaria and all they specialized in the best flautas and taquitos. My mom was also a great cook and so I had a connection to delicious food from an early age. 

I worked in restaurants, in my middle and late teens, almost always in the front of house. I decided my love for the food business was worth going to college for. I went to the California Culinary Academy to truly understand how to run a restaurant from front to back of house. I paid for it myself and graduated with two degrees. 

After graduating, I went to Las Vegas, wanting to learn from one of the best, at a restaurant called Picasso. I scheduled an interview and went to Vegas. After waiting an hour and a half, the Chef finally appeared… he said, just show up tomorrow with your knives. I auditioned and got the job. There I learned exquisite food preparation and presentation. 

Once in Portland, I worked for a couple fine dining restaurants as an Executive Sous Chef and then at the Waverly Country Club. A friend told me about this position and I jumped at the chance to be Executive Chef here.


Biggest challenge following the food code: Not finding straws in the coffee cups on the line in the morning!


Favorite thing about the business: Making guest happy is first and foremost. It’s also really important for me to mentor the crew. I am brother, father, cousin, and teacher to them all … we are family. Everyone learns differently.  You play coach and figure out how to help them reach their potential.


Hours worked daily: 10 - 12 hours a day


Favorite food: When I go out to eat, I seek simple comfort food. One of my favorite meals is a good Reuben sandwich.

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