Salt | Philadelphia,
Growing up among eight siblings in Nicaragua, Vernon Morales often
found himself spending the most time in the kitchen. While observing
his mom’s cooking he occasionally helped her out, but his
mom mostly remembers him making a mess. Nevertheless, Morales was
inspired, and today, his dishes reflect his extensive training and
When Morales was young, he and his family moved to the small town
of Moose Lake, Minnesota. While attending the University of Minnesota,
Morales found himself unsure of his life’s direction, so he
decided to stick with what he loved and knew best - cooking. Soon
after, Morales left Minnesota and headed west to enroll in San Francisco’s
California Culinary Academy.
After graduating, Morales went on to work at the celebrated Restaurant
Daniel in New York City. Two years later, Morales traveled overseas
to Gerona, Spain. As chef de partie at Ferrán Adria’s
world-renowned El Bulli, Morales took this highly-coveted opportunity
seriously. Taking in as much as he could, Morales left with enough
solid knowledge, later earning him the title of sous chef upon his
return to Restaurant Daniel six months later. A year and a half
after that, Morales journeyed to Spain yet again. This time Morales
lived in Lasarte, Spain and worked with another world-famous chef,
Martín Berastategui in his famed restaurant of the same name.
When Morales finally left Spain, he again arrived in New York
to work at the Peacock Alley restaurant in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
It was here that Morales met his mentor, Laurent Gras, whom he credits
teaching him about culinary precision. Sadly, Peacock Alley closed
shortly after September 11th, and after working in the kitchens
of the Ritz-Carlton in Battery Park for a year, it was time for
Morales to move on.
The need for a change and perfect timing led Morales to Philadelphia.
As Executive Chef of Salt, a small, personal restaurant, Morales
was in an ideal environment to create and execute his cuisine built
on years of significant culinary training. With his family back
in Nicaragua, Morales visits his hometown often. You can still find
him hanging out in his mom’s kitchen, but he’s not making
such a mess these days.