We had the good fortune of connecting with Joel Gutierrez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Joel, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
I’m always evolving, and never settling for complacency. Even from when I originally started.
At 18, I was a college student, working as a server in a nursing home. Then I became a cook there. Then I decided to make a career out of cooking and took my first job as a line cook in a professional kitchen.
The hunger for change always pushes me forward. It also goes hand in hand with pushing the envelope with food; it plays into the creative process.
Over the course of my 12-year career this mindset has guided my growth from cooking on the line, to running a kitchen, to becoming an Executive Sous Chef, and now, in my early 30s, Executive Chef.
If you’re not always constantly searching for your own evolution, you may have lost the love for what you’re doing.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I think the way I’ve gotten to where I’m at is by being one of the hardest workers in the room at all times. Putting in the extra time goes a long way. Asking and learning from those above me, whether that meant coming in early or staying late, allowed me the opportunity to advance at every level of my career.
At times it wasn’t easy, especially as a chef you miss out on things with your family. But it’s part of the necessary evil to get to where I wanted to be.
I’ve realized that you have to have a work-life balance at some point, to make time for family and friends. Having this mentality allows me to have more compassion for the cooks that work in my kitchen. That environment will hep them thrive, the same way I was able to when I was coming up.
I want people to know that my core principle is to try and use 100 percent of the whole ingredient. It’s better for the environment and you challenge yourself in new ways. When you come to eat my cooking, this is what you will experience.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
In Orange County, some of my favorite places are Mozza, The Blue Beet (one of the few bars with live music in Newport Peninsula … my home bar since day 1), and Chef Amar Santana’s Vaca. Their in-house charcuterie program is fantastic, among many other things.
I’d also take them up to LA to check out all of the museums up there. In particular the Getty Museum is amazing.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Johnny Shaw, the first Executive Chef I ever worked with, is that person for me. He was the first chef who took the time to teach me how to do things correctly, even though I had no experience at all.
The love for cooking that he had was infectious and that’s really what set me down the path to cook professionally.
I learned everything from him. Knife skills … classic recipes. The biggest thing I took way from him was the idea of treating your ingredients with respect when putting them on the plate for your guests. They were perfect when they came in; make them perfect going out, too.
Knife & Spork PR