Juan Cruz

Cruz began cooking in 1988 at the El San Juan Hotel in his native Puerto Rico, where his mentor, Uncle Joe Cruz, taught him about food and encouraged him to attend culinary school. After earning a college degree from the University of Puerto Rico, Cruz went on to the Culinary Institute of Puerto Rico. Post-graduation, he has held positions at...

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Cruz began cooking in 1988 at the El San Juan Hotel in his native Puerto Rico, where his mentor, Uncle Joe Cruz, taught him about food and encouraged him to attend culinary school. After earning a college degree from the University of Puerto Rico, Cruz went on to the Culinary Institute of Puerto Rico. Post-graduation, he has held positions at the Westin Rio Mar Country Club Puerto Rico, Ritz Carlton Miami, Wyndham Grand Bay. Cruz is an ex-member of the Puerto Rico National Culinary Team 2003. Juan Cruz’ list of honors and award is long and include (but are not limited to) in 2013- 1 gold medal, 2 silver medals by American Culinary Federation, Florida food show Orlando Florida. In 2006, silver medal by American Culinary Federation at the International Food Service Expo. In 2005, Bronze Medal, International Food Service Expo. In 2004, he was awarded a First Place Gold Medal in the individual competition and Bronze Medal in “Taste of Elegance: Individual Pork Competition” by the American Culinary Federation at the International Food Service Expo, Orlando, Florida.

My management style is fair but with high expectations. I standardize my recipes to maintain consistency and always demonstrate what is expected for each dish in regards to portion size and presentation. I delegate people according to their strengths, but rotate them seasonally to different stations to help them in their professional development, and to increase flexibility in the kitchen staff. I train the wait staff on the menu by letting them sample the menu items, and listen to their feedback. One hour before service, there is a meeting for wait staff and kitchen staff to go over the menu and nightly specials.

I am flexible with special dietary requests from members. I am glad to make adjustments for health-conscious members or those with specific dietary needs. I am visible to the members in the dining room so that I am able to receive their feedback on the menu.

I speak to many area food purveyors to secure the best quality product at the best price. Product is inspected on arrival and any unacceptable product is returned. This ensures delivery of quality product. I request the weekly market and price reports to be aware of which products are currently available and which products are not. Additionally I like being involved with local product even though at times it can be more costly. Members at my current club appreciate supporting local businesses.

At my current and past clubs, I have had the opportunity to work closely with the Wine Society and present monthly wine dinners. In addition, I teach cooking classes at the club quarterly. When I started teaching the classes at my current position, there were only 10 students, we presently range from 30-35 students per class.  I also like to have classes with the members – it is a great way to get to know the members more closely and so they feel more excited about dining at the club.

Juan Cruz,

Certified Executive Chef, ACF

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