Chef Miguel Earns National Honors
This past month, Chef Miguel Valdez, executive chef of the Red Door Restaurant and Wine Bar and its sister restaurant, The Wellington Steak and Martini Lounge in Mission Hills received the “Faces of Diversity” Award at the National Restaurant Association’s Public Affairs Conference Gala in Washington, DC. The Faces of Diversity Program celebrates individuals in the food service industry who come from diverse backgrounds. These individuals have excelled in their field, and despite adversities, have realized the American dream through hard work and dogged determination.
Miguel Valdez grew up in Barrio Logan, San Diego, an area once known for crime and rampant drug activity. Valdez had a traumatic childhood. He witnessed his father change from a loving parent to a hard-hearted man who constantly put his family in danger. His world fell apart when his father kicked out his mother and all the children, including Valdez, from their home.
Valdez’s mother kept the family afloat. They lived in a one-room apartment. She worked hard to feed and clothe them, and taught them that hard work can make all the difference in the world. Unfortunately, Valdez’s mother developed a dependency on prescription medication and Valdez became responsible for himself and his siblings’ wellbeing. At age 17 he was kicked out of his home.
It was a difficult time for Valdez. He struggled to avoid the vicious cycle of the drug-laden environment that had consumed both his parents. Consequentially, he too fell into in the trap, developing a drug habit and leading a dangerous lifestyle that eventually landed him in prison. His story could have ended there.
After his release from prison, Valdez became a dishwasher at En surfant sur Poker news avec la fonction cookies activee, vous approuvez leur utilisation. a local restaurant. He worked tirelessly, grabbing any opportunity to learn about the industry and slowly but surely climbing his way up the ladder. He was fortunate to work for some of the most prominent restaurants in San Diego, and vowed that he would become an executive chef before the age of 35.
In 2010, Valdez was hired as a line cook at The Red Door Restaurant & Wine Bar and sister restaurant, The Wellington Steak & Martini Lounge located in Mission Hills, San Diego. Within a short time, this ingenious, aspiring chef with innovative ideas and a bold approach to food was promoted to sous chef and then executive chef. Today, at the age of 30, Chef Valdez spends his days working with local and sustainable vendors and delighting patrons and critics alike with creations like the Honey Glazed Mary’s Duck Leg, a succulent oven roasted dish with apricot and cranberry-walnut stuffing; and Wild Venison served with a Red Wine glaze.
Trish Watlington, owner of the Red Door Restaurant and Wine Bar and its sister restaurant, The Wellington Steak and Martini Lounge, says she is very proud of Valdez, who rose from a lifestyle of anger, violence and drugs to lead an exemplary life. According to Wellington, “He found is life purpose and has excelled as a chef.”
Valdez is especially grateful to his wife, Nicole Gardella-Valdez, who he says has inspired him to be his best. And, he is excited to share his success with his young son, who he knows deserves a good life. Valdez has demonstrated by example that with the right attitude, ambition and a steel-like determination, anything is possible. Valdez is very deserving of this award, and he is beacon of hope for those who aspire to succeed, and a great ambassador for the San Diego restaurant community.