A native of South Central Los Angeles, Juan has cooking in his blood. The oldest of three kids, he grew up helping his mom and cooking for his little sisters. The whole house was always filled the aromas of the Mexican comfort food his mother would offer anyone walking in her door. To this day, Juan can always be soothed with a warm bowl of frijoles after a long day. Juan went to UCLA and was planning on going Pre-Med and becoming a plastic surgeon. What was supposed to be a short break from school turned into a career when Juan went to San Francisco to help at his family‘s restaurant. He had caught the bug. Starting as dishwasher, Juan got more and more interested in cooking for a living. In 2010 he was part of CCAP (Careers through Culinary Arts Program) and was working in the kitchens of Neal Fraser. Since then, he has spent time at Vibiana, Short Order and Tender Greens, to name a few. In 2012 he joined Steve Samson at Sotto, cooking his way through the ranks to become the essential part of the team he is today.
Q: IF YOU COULD GIVE ONE WORD OF ADVICE TO AN ASPIRING YOUNG CHEF, WHAT WOULD THAT BE?
JT: “Passion or……Finesse”
Q: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO COOK?
JT: “Pasta (Casarecce)”
Q: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT YOUR JOB?
JT: “People. My co-workers…..and making great food, of course.”
Q: WHO WAS A MENTOR TO YOU?
JT: “Elderoy from Tender Greens…..he really taught me that the little things matter, along with humbleness, and communication. He is a beast.”
Q: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE RESTAURANT?
JT: “Coni‘s Seafood in Inglewood…aguachiles, so good!!”
Q: WHAT MUSIC DO YOU JAM OUT TO WHILE IN THE KITCHEN
JT: “Everyday is switches…..from Motown to Usher to Ice Cube….to Celine Dion”
Q: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT BEING A PART OF #TEAMSOTTO?
JT: “There is something about this place that is magnetic….it drags me here and I don‘t mind it!”