EXECUTIVE BANQUET CHEF CHRIS VILLARREAL
Born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada
Attended Cimarron Memorial High School
Self-taught in the Culinary Field
Trained through Rio’s Culinary Apprentice Program
I first started here at the Rio in March of 2003 as a seasonal cook. I applied as a seasonal cook because that was all that was available at the time and I wanted to “get my foot in the door”. I worked as a seasonal cook for about 2 months but as I was doing so there were over time hours available in Banquets. As I worked both outlets through the 2 weeks the Chefs started to notice me and had already knew I had steakhouse and a gourmet food back ground as my most recent job occupation was 3 years at Emeril Lagasse’s restaurant Delmonico Steak in the Venetian.
My Chefs then offered me a cook position in our old steak house here at the Rio called Fiore. I work there as a cook for about a little over a year and then was awarded the senior cooks title. I then worked as senior cook for about 3 years and then the opportunity to be in the C.A.M.P. program became available. This was an internal apprentice program that consisted of 6 students and was mentored by the Assistant Executive Chef at the time.
The C.A.M.P. program consisted of shadowing different Room Chefs in different outlets, covering their days off and pairing up with a different room chef, planning and executing a menu every Saturday for our Chefs meetings. We would start prep the day before at 6am, work with a Chef in their outlet that day until 11pm and be back at 6am the next day to execute the Chef’s meeting. After the Chef’s meeting I would then work with a Chef in their outlet that night until close again. I did this for a good 6-8 months until I started to cover Chef’s days off and work there outlets as a Relief Room Chef.
After the role of Relief Room Chef I was promoted to Chef Tournant in All-American Bar and Grill. I did this for about 3 years but my interest always remained in wanting work to in banquets. I saw that it was a unique environment also the way that things were always changing and never the same daily. The food was different, the organization of execution was a certain way and I wanted to take on that challenge for myself. So finally after bugging my chef for 3 years I was finally given the chance to work in Banquets as a Chef Tournant with Chef Leticia Nunez. Same pay but, I really didn’t care as this is what I had been waiting for, for a long time. I got a lot of exposer to the the Garde Manger side as well as the hot side of banquets for about 3 years then, the opportunity for the All American Bar and Grill Room Chef position opened up. It was offered to me so I took it as I felt this was an opportunity to show I was able to run my own operation and kitchen. Even though my heart was in banquets I felt I needed to prove myself even more so I took it. I stayed in all American for a little under a year, it was not very long but I felt I had learned quit a lot and gained knowledge of a high volume business level restaurant.
There then was an opening for the job title at the time “Assistant Executive Banquet Chef” and when I saw the opportunity for that position I applied. I then became assistant to the Executive Banquet at the time Chef David Andrews. I then started to learn from him as he started to show me more and more in depth of how banquet functions are planned, organization of the kitchen and why it needs to be that way, more intense menu planning and why it is always important to always have a plan B if not a plan C. I was shown how to adapt to situations that I had never been in before in my whole career and how to have patience and not jump the gun. I’m not going say I never fail because I do but, failing is the only way you learn how not to and the only way you can develop to become better.
A few years later the role of Banquet Garde Manger Chef became available so I applied and I was offered this role by the new Executive Banquet Leticia Nunez. I wanted to assume this role as I felt it could only would only help my career and expand skills as a banquet Chef. I would also be learing from all of her knowledge that she has acquired through her career as a Banquet Garde Manger Chef.
My passion for food and my want for new challenges and thoughts of diversity will always be in me. I have always loved food and loved being involved with it ever since I was three years old. I’m 40 years old now and I know I’m not perfect but, in my eyes I can definitely strive to be and reach for what is next for me and my career.