Chef Juan Carlos Gonzalez of Bistro Alex at Hotel Sorella - Biography

Houston, Texas

February 2011

Chef Juan Carlos Gonzalez learned to appreciate bold flavors at a very young age. Born in Puerto Rico to a family of Spanish and Italian decent, Gonzales grew up around large-scale celebrations. Using the freshest herbs, seasonal produce, and catches of the day, Gonzalez’ father oversaw outdoor cooking of titanic proportions while his mother managed other meal preparations indoors. Gonzalez frequently took time out from his play with 35 first cousins to lend a helping hand.

Armed with a passion for intense flavor, Gonzalez traveled the yellow brick road to a rare and coveted apprenticeship under Chef Eric Ripert at New York City’s revered Le Bernardin. After learning the ropes and working most kitchen stations, Juan Carlos left The Big Apple for The Big Easy to join Commander’s Palace and late Chef Jamie Shannon, the exuberant chef who led the already-fabled kitchen to a string of national awards.

Although thousands of miles from his homeland, Gonzalez found the bold flavors of Louisiana’s Creole cooking—the melding of European, African and American flavors—to be familiar and appealing. His passion for fabulous food continued to grow as Gonzalez worked his way up to sous chef over five years, working second in command to current Executive Chef Tory McPhail.

After Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans and caused extensive damage to Commander’s Palace, Gonzalez welcomed the opportunity to remain with the Commander’s Palace family of restaurants as executive sous chef under long-time colleague and friend Chef Danny Trace.
Now at the helm in the kitchen of Bistro Alex, Chef Gonzalez incorporates bits and pieces of his upbringing and culinary training by infusing bold flavors and fresh, quality ingredients into dishes such as Boudin Blanc Crusted Black Grouper with Five Mustard Sauce.