January 2022 Chef of the Month – Chef Chris Valdes

We’re kicking off 2022 with our January Chef of the Month, the talented Miami native, Chris Valdes! Chef Chris is a Celebrity Chef, cookbook author, and the owner of Chris Valdes Catering, a full production events company! You may have seen Chef Chris on his YouTube channel, on the cover of several magazines or even on the Food Network and Hallmark Channel. His passion for food began at a very young age. Growing up in a family restaurant allowed Chef Chris to experience his love of food first-hand. He dreamed of motivating people around the world to cook and have fun in the kitchen. Today, he’s made his culinary dreams come true. We can’t wait to share his story with you and some of his Latin-inspired dishes!

1. Where were you born?
I was born on May 11, 1991, in a place that I call paradise and home: Miami, Florida. Growing up in Miami in the ’90s was truly a gift. Miami is such a magical place. I’ve had the pleasure of traveling to many places around the world, and I always say the same thing: there is no place like home. You have to live here to understand its madness and why it’s so special. Our culture, the hot food scene, our beaches, and even our craziness make this place beyond special. You can walk the streets and see something new every day.

2. Where do you work and where are you based? 
I am Chef and Owner of Chris Valdes Catering, a full production events company in Miami, FL. This past July the company turned 11 years old. Yup, I opened it when I was 19 years young.

3. What is your favorite kitchen tool in creating your masterpieces/dishes?
My favorite kitchen tool is my chef’s knife. It’s the one tool that comes into contact with almost everything and anything that you prepare. It’s the one tool I will always need and rely on.

4. What is your sharpest sense out of all the 5 senses?
One of my sharpest senses is my sight. I can tell if something is overcooked, undercooked, or even spoiled just by looking at it. It’s something that developed with experience and time, and it is truly a gift.

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?
Follow your dreams. If a career in culinary arts is what you desire, go for it. In the meantime, I recommend a part-time job at a local restaurant because we all love food but being part of the creation process is a different token. If you see you like it, and your mind wanders around the possibilities of creating a dish, then pursue it and don’t look back.

6. What is one culinary tip every chef should know and perfect?
The one culinary tip that every chef should know is that love is the most important ingredient in any dish and it’s also the one ingredient that is missing in many dishes.

7. What does good food mean to you?
Good food is nurturing to the soul. Good food is love.

8. What features are important to you when selecting your chef outfit?
When selecting a chef outfit the one feature that is most important to me is durability because I don’t have time to be buying chef coats all the time. I like a good product, that will last and be worth what I paid for.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 
Garlic, who doesn’t love it? Goes good on everything!

10. Favorite city to dine out in?
New Orleans is one of my favorite cities to dine out. Every dish has a story, a tradition, and a method to it. It’s filled with layers of flavor, love, and comfort. As soon as I get to New Orleans the first thing on my mind is a shrimp, chicken, and smokey Andouille sausage gumbo.

11. Best dish you have ever made? 
One of the best dishes I’ve ever made was my stuffed pork shoulder. Juicy moist citrus and garlic marinated pork stuffed with rice, ground beef, and sweet plantain mixture, and as the pork cooks, all its drippings fall on that rice mixture and after a few hours, you have that crispy pork skin.

12. What do you like to eat most often on your days off? 
On my days off my cravings could run wild but I can usually settle for a crisp, juicy fried chicken or a seared steak cooked to perfection. And I always have to end it on a sweet note like a lite brownie or a warm toffee nut cake with cold ice cream.

13. Person you would most like to cook for? 
Chef Emeril Lagasse, the chef on TV, my culinary superhero (after my mom, of course), and he’s probably one of the reasons that I am part of the food world today. I wanted to be just like him. I wanted to motivate people from around the world to cook and have fun in the kitchen. I wanted to inspire kids to follow their dreams. He is the one person I would love to cook for and with.

14. What are some of the difficulties you’d say that chefs most often encounter?
One of the difficulties I encounter the most as a chef is asking myself after each and every dish, does that taste good? Was that my best? Will they like it? Will they understand and appreciate my vision and process for this creation? It’s something that always crosses my mind, not because of self-doubt but because as a chef I am always striving for perfection. It’s haunting!

15. What made you decide to become a chef?

Growing up in a family restaurant has had a huge impact on me. I’ve even asked my father if I was conceived there during the busy lunch hour, as I love food and am always in a hurry.

Walking inside the restaurant kitchen every day after school was truly a thrill for me. I would just close my eyes, and, with the smells lingering through the air, I would envision what creation Mom was cooking up. Anytime I would walk into that kitchen I had questions for my mom—questions that she always took the time to carefully answer. What are you cooking today? Why does it smell like that? What are you adding to that pot? What is today’s special? And the most important question of all… may I taste?

Sometimes I would just sit down on the kitchen counter and quietly observe everything from the cooking in the kitchen, to how my father ran the restaurant –  it was like a hobby for me. These observations taught me more than I could imagine, and they would one day prove to be very handy. This along with watching Emeril for the first time on TV led me to follow my dreams of becoming a Chef.

Connect with our January 2022 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @chefchrisvaldes
Website: https://www.chefchrisvaldes.com/
YouTube: Chef Chris Valdes
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chefchrisvaldes
Twitter: @chefchrisvaldes
Order His Cookbook: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0578886456

Shop Chef Coats

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