Jonathan Gutiérrez is the newly named executive chef at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, a AAA Four-Diamond all-seasons resort in the southeastern Wisconsin community of Lake Geneva. Chef Gutiérrez brings more than a decade of culinary experience to the trio of Grand Geneva restaurants. Learn about Jonathan Gutiérrez…
Hometown: I was born and raised in Aguascalientes, Mexico. That is where my love for cooking and culinary learning began. From a young age, I cooked with my mom and took over preparing special meals such as Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve dinner before I was a teenager. I learned from my mom that cooking was much more than good food, it was about sharing happiness and getting together with family and friends. I also learned that I love to experiment and create dishes on my own.
First Job: My first job was unpaid. It was at a local restaurant in West Caliente where I grew up. It was one we visited almost weekly as a family, and I grew to love. When I was around 16 years old, I asked the chef how I could come and learn from him. He told me to be there the following Saturday at 6 a.m. to help him prepare the buffet. I learned from Chef Sergio and worked unpaid for several years until I was accepted into Disney’s Culinary Program and worked for a year at the Magic Kingdom and Epcot Center.
Favorite ways to spend your free time in WI: As a new resident, my favorite thing to do in Wisconsin is to visit local culinary businesses from creameries to breweries, restaurants and others to learn more about their local specialties. I love to help support local businesses and want to continue to build those partnerships with local businesses and Grand Geneva Resort & Spa. Offering locally sourced foods and flavors is something we pride ourselves in.
Your biggest accomplishment and why: So far in my career, my biggest accomplishment is being named the executive chef here at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa. This is a place that is allowing me to be a mentor and creator and to showcase my passion. I am also proud of the holiday e-cookbook I’ve published at www.chefjonathang.com and am working on another one currently.
The biggest obstacle you overcame: The restaurant industry is often known for toxicity and negativity. Especially younger in my career, I had to face it, learn from it and become a leader. I learned from those who did not have the negative mindset. I like to create a positive environment which in turn creates happy food.
Someone who inspires you and why: Personally, my wife is my inspiration. The patience and supportiveness she has for me in my career has helped me get to where I am today. My mom inspired my love for cooking, and my dad and brothers inspired me to have a positive mindset about work. Professionally, Heston Blumenthal, is my greatest inspiration. My style is similar to his – experimental contemporary with traditional highlights.
Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: My best advice is to have patience and make sure you are passionate about your work. Throughout your career, you are always learning, so have patience with that. You also need to be happy with what you are doing. Keep creating and make sure you are not the one who is just following.
Favorite quote: “To me food is as much about the moment, the occasion, the location and the company as it is about the taste.” –Heston Blumenthal
Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: I am also into video games, anime and comic books. I love culinary books and own 310 of them!
What makes someone fabulous: Generally fabulous refers to something that is extraordinary, excellent or remarkable. As a person, individual or chef you need to have confidence, authenticity, charisma, style and fashion, positive attitude, kindness and empathy, accomplishments and talents, wit and humor. Being fabulous as a chef involves possessing exceptional culinary skills, creativity in crafting innovative and delicious dishes and passion for food, commitment to quality and presentation. It also involves the ability to create memorable dining experiences that delights and satisfy patrons, all this while inspiring and mentoring others. A great mustache doesn’t hurt!