Executive Chef Julian Gonzalez Cruz

A Chef’s Long Journey to Excellence

The beautiful city of Tampico, Mexico gave birth to a shining talent that finds himself excelling here in the desert of Southern California. Julian Gonzalez Cruz began his gastronomic career as a student of the prestigious Ambrosia Culinary Center in Mexico City, Mexico. He completed his certification in high-end cuisine, and began to explore different culinary positions under the wing of French chef Denis Radoux.

His drive to expand his knowledge guided him to the United States of America, where he graduated with honors at the Florida Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida. There, he began a journey of flavor that sent him to Miami, where he successfully performed in different culinary positions with the valuable guidance of Chef Chris Cramer. Nostalgia called him back to Mexico, to the crystalline coast of the Riviera Maya, where he was hired by the most important hotel management company in the country: Grupo Posadas. Julian worked as a chef de partie at the Azur restaurant in the exclusive Aqua Hotel, where Chef Franco Maddalozzo instructed him on the intricacies of Italian cuisine. Unfortunately, hurricane Wilma severely damaged the hotel and interrupted his learning adventure.

Pan Seared Scallops

This unprecedented hardship led to a great work opportunity for Julian, as he ascended to the status of executive chef at the Fiesta Americana hotel in the Caribbean island of Cozumel. The guests, local chefs and distinguished members of the community welcomed him as an important member of the culinary society.

Searching for a bigger challenge, Julian returned to the Riviera Maya to explore a position of a lower rank in a promising Mexican hotel chain. He acquired the post of sous chef at El Dorado Royale in the Riviera Maya. Here, he encountered his future mentor and friend, Chef Christian Monchatre. Chef Monchatre’s vast knowledge and experience in classic and contemporary French cuisine uncovered a whole new passion for Julian. Noticing his apprentice’s dedication, Chef Monchatre promoted him to executive sous chef and sent him to Las Vegas to work for one of the most influential chefs of our time–Joël Robuchon. Chef Robuchon, named Chef of the Century, has been awarded with 21 Michelin stars, symbols of culinary excellence.

Julian had an intense one-month boot camp at two different restaurants: L’Atelier (one Michelin star) and Joël (three Michelin stars). He was supervised by two of Chef Robuchon’s disciples, chefs Steve Benjamin and Claude Le Tohic. For three days, Julian had the honor of working with Chef Robuchon himself.

Summer Fresh Avocado Salad

After this enriching experience, Julian was determined to take the path of hard work and sacrifice in order to achieve his dream. Since then, he has worked as a sous chef at the Gold Strike Casino Resort in Mississippi and as an executive chef at Villa La Estancia Hotel in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. These two very different opportunities allowed him to grow as a chef and develop his abilities in high-volume service and the use of traditional Mexican ingredients, respectively.

In September of 2012, Julian’s mentor, Chef Monchatre hired him as an executive sous chef in one of the most prestigious and exclusive private golf clubs in Southern California: The Thunderbird Country Club. During this incredible work experience, Julian collaborated with celebrity chef Thierry Rautureau, also known as the “Chef in the Hat,” in a special event for the members of the club.

He also participated in a charity event organized by the James Beard Foundation at the restaurant Pedalers Fork in Calabasas, California, where he shared his talent with renowned chefs such as Gavin Lansdale, Dan Murray, Sam Baxter and his mentor Christian Monchatre.

He will be guest starring in a benefit dinner in Marco Island, Florida in which he will be part of a series of dinners to benefit the Lily Foundation, which provides assistance to rural areas of Nicaragua for girls with cancer.

Julian's Chocolate Sponge Cake

This unique chef carries the name of his hometown and his country wherever he goes. He has continued to show, with his flavorful and creative dishes, that Mexico is filled with hidden talents. Although Julian’s journey has been remarkable for such a young age, his innovative spirit promises that more is yet to come.

And now at the helm of Villa Portofino Culinary department, Chef Julian and the F&B team will provide a service in which homeowners and guests will be pampered with their culinary needs and receive a quality of service and food that will delight you.