Fernando Cruz, the 34-year-old Executive Chef at 1 Hotel South Beach, was born and raised in Ponce, Puerto Rico and first fell in love with the chemistry in a kitchen and the hospitality industry as a teen. After graduating from college, Cruz worked on a farm for a
year where he did everything from raising chickens to milking cows....

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Fernando Cruz, the 34-year-old Executive Chef at 1 Hotel South Beach, was born and raised in Ponce, Puerto Rico and first fell in love with the chemistry in a kitchen and the hospitality industry as a teen. After graduating from college, Cruz worked on a farm for a
year where he did everything from raising chickens to milking cows. Through this handson experience, Cruz found his deep respect for farmers and agricultural technology, learned how the food on our plates comes to be, and grew to understand the connection
chefs can make with the ingredients they use.

At 19 years old, Cruz was accepted to the hotel and restaurant administration program at the Culinary Institute of America where he was challenged with intense English classes and later, an internship in Spain. In this stage of his life as well as through his bachelor’s
degree program in the U.S., he realized his passion for the inner workings of a kitchen and the responsibility that came with leading a culinary team.

Cruz worked his way up through prestigious establishments alongside notable chefs including Pedro Subijana, Juan Mari Arzak, Roberto Treviño, and Roy Khoo. He deepened his knowledge of culinary culture working at Waldorf Astoria and for other large
national corporations such as Capella Hotel Group and currently, SH Group. At 29 years old, Cruz appeared in the Food Network’s Hell’s Kitchen with Gordon Ramsey.

Four years ago, Cruz joined 1 Hotel South Beach at its inception when there was still dust on the ground. The hotel was in its very beginning stages and did not even have an employee handbook. With time, his administrative duties expanded from overseeing
WATR to then leading the culinary teams for the hotel’s banquet, pool cabanas, Plnthouse, Habitat and all of the F&B workings in between. He used his past connections from interning in Spain and adventures in America to build a strong team of unique skillsets. According to Cruz, “a good team is everything.”

Cruz now cumulates more than 15 years of culinary experience and oversees an impressively large operation totaling 8 kitchens, 10 F&B outlets and roughly 100 culinary professionals. He operates his kitchens under a farm to fork mentally with a high standard
for environmental responsibilities and the best quality ingredients. In his free time, Fernando enjoys his other passions: hyper cars, video games, movies and spending time with his wife, Maria, and his children, Stella del Mar, Joaquin, and Fernando Rafael.

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