Juan Lopez

Fabulous People: Juan Lopez

After a 36-year tenure, Juan Lopez recently became the executive chef at Hilton Anaheim and now oversees its three restaurants and catering services. “Drawing on my Mexican heritage, I plan to incorporate many of the styles, flavors and techniques from my diverse culture, including smoking styles and the creation of homestyle sauces into Hilton Anaheim’s menu items at MIX Restaurant and MIX Lounge.” Learn about Chef Lopez…

Hometown: Michoacán, Mexico

First job: I began my culinary career in 1982 at Ambrosia Fine Dining Restaurant in Newport Beach. From there, I joined the Hilton Anaheim in 1985 where I worked alongside European chefs, primarily in banquets and I discovered my passion for culinary through large-scale meetings and events. During my career, I also taught California Cuisine in Switzerland in 2011 and most recently used the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to launch a catering business further building on my passion for banquet and food preparation. 

Favorite ways to spend your free time in CA: I enjoy spending a night out dining and tasting different cuisine styles and flavors with my wife.

Your biggest accomplishment and why: My love for the kitchen began when I was a young boy and watched my mother prepare dishes with farm-fresh ingredients. Her cooking style has influenced my own culinary journey, and I am proud to bring my passion for creativity, unique flavor profiles, and my signature cooking styles into new experiences and offerings for guests and provide them with a taste of my home. My biggest accomplishment thus far is becoming the new executive chef at Hilton Anaheim. This accomplishment has required hard work throughout the years, and I feel I am in a great position where I’m passionate about my work and enjoy my career.

The biggest obstacle you overcame: The language barrier from Spanish to English has been the biggest obstacle I’ve had to overcome. 

Someone who inspires you and why: Two great chefs who have inspired me throughout my career are Fred Horsley and Frederic Castan. Castan was the former executive chef at the Hilton Anaheim, who I trained under for many years. They both proved to have amazing knowledge in the kitchen which inspired my own culinary journey. Like Gordon Ramsay once said, “If you want to become a great chef, you have to work with great chefs,” and that’s exactly what I did. 

Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Whatever you do, do it with determination. You have one life to live; do your work with passion and give your best. Be passionate to get the best result.

Favorite quote: “Being a chef never seems like a job, it becomes a true passion.” –Gordon Ramsay

Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: I’m very reserved and quite shy.

What makes someone fabulous: Someone who thrives to be the best they can be.

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