2019 San Francisco Rising Star Chef Robert Hernandez of Octavia

2019 San Francisco Rising Star Chef Robert Hernandez of Octavia

When Robert Hernandez was growing up in suburban Los Angeles, the kitchen was always abustle with family and friends. His father is Salvadoran and his mother from Matzatlan, Mexico. She cooked every day: tamales, pozoles, fish, barbecue... Whenever his mother and aunt were helming the stove, Hernandez was likely at their side. At 16, he entered the hospitality industry via movie theater concessions. His parents were skeptical of the financial security a career as a chef could provide, and by 18 Hernandez had moved north to study international relations at San Francisco State University. He also picked up a job in Macy’s food department, prepping and cooking for the inhouse restaurant. Eventually Hernandez followed his true passion to the California Culinary Academy, externing at Quince and Delfina.

He then joined the team at Blue Stem Brasserie and later pop-up Gung Ho before changing things up with a six month stint helping a chef-friend in Arizona. Back in San Francisco, Hernandez worked at private social club The Battery, was part of the opening team of Square by Sons and Daughters, and later came to Aveline. In 2015, he met Melissa Perello who brought him onboard at Octavia. After years of searching, Hernandez had finally found a home.

He jumped from line cook to chef de cuisine of the San Francisco gem, and credits Perello not only with advancing his cooking, but teaching him how to run a restaurant. At Octavia, Hernandez cooking is a lesson in seasonal simplicity with pops of innovation—and soulfulness learned from his mother and aunt.