It was his high school sweetheart that brought Kelvin Fernandez to find his passion for food. Although his father worked in the culinary world, the executive chef never saw a career in the industry until he went to cooking classes with his girlfriend. It was there that something sparked in him and he eventually found himself at the Culinary Institute of America on a scholarship.
With his achievements, it seems that the culinary world was always written in the stars for Fernandez, who has had nothing but success when it comes to his talent in the kitchen. At the age of 22, the Dominican-American became the youngest chef to graduate from the Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), later becoming the most budding executive chef in fine dining in New York City.
And the list goes on for the talented chef who was placed on Forbes 30 under 30 list in 2015 and beat renowned chef Bobby Flay on the Food Network show “Beat Bobby Flay,” with his acclaimed arepa dish.
“The first dish that I ever did that was Latin was the arepa that I created,” said the chef, whose resume includes the kitchens of The Strand and La Marina, two well-known restaurants in NYC. “It was one of the most successful dishes I’ve ever made.”
There’s no letting go of those flavors for Fernandez, who has faced requests of cutting down his Latin touch on dishes. He admits to leaving a job after being asked to “tone things down.” The young chef now makes his own rules and embraces his cultural background working at private events while building his personal brand. “It’s very important for me to have my culture in my dishes now, as I grow as a chef,” says Fernandez, who one day hopes to open an arepa bar. “The coolest thing and the most unique thing about that [cultural influence] is that I can take ingredients we [Latinos] have in our culture and introduce them to people that have never seen it.”
Get to know more about Chef Kelvin Fernandez in his episode of Los Creadores, featured above!