Rising Star Chef Julio Hernandez of Maiz De La Vida - Biography

Nashville, TN

May 2022

Hailing from Tlaxcala, Mexico, Julio Hernandez’s family depended on corn, harvesting and making tortillas from the bounty of crops that surrounded their home. He moved to New York City as a teenager and was pulled into the restaurant industry. But after a couple front of house jobs, Hernandez realized he was “the worst” server, hanging out on the line rather than paying attention to his section. So, he transitioned to the kitchen and never looked back. Hernandez cooked at Becco, Spice Market, and Toloache, but after years of a grueling work schedule, he was in need of a serious lifestyle change. 

Hernandez relocated to Nashville for a role at the Hillwood Country Club, where he sharpened his knowledge of French technique. After his eight-year tenure, he traded the high-end country club for the city's under-the-radar taqueria scene as the executive chef of Nectar Urban Cantina. Although he didn’t know much about Mexican cooking aside from the food he ate growing up, Hernandez learned about the cuisine alongside the Nashville community, introducing high-quality tacos to locals. It wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic forced Hernandez to take a step away from his job that he realized what he was missing—an essential ingredient of Mexican cooking: masa. After several trips to Mexico and days spent cooking with his mother, Hernandez began his pop-up and eventual food truck, Maiz De La Vida. With a brick and mortar on track to open summer 2022, Hernandez has made it his mission to bring the people of Nashville molino-ground, nixtamalized, heirloom maiz.