Chef Jose Fernandez joined The Peninsula Chicago team in June 2015, and since then he’s taken advantage of all the city of Chicago has to offer. It’s Fernandez’s passion: using organic, sustainable ingredients to incorporate local inspiration into healthy, delicious dining experiences.
In his role at The Peninsula Chicago, Executive Chef Fernandez oversees all culinary operations within the hotel, including three award-winning restaurants; banquets; The Bar; and 24-hour, in-room dining. Since its 2001 opening, The Peninsula Chicago’s restaurants, spa and 339 guestrooms and suites continue to receive accolades, including the AAA Five Diamond Award.
At only 16 years old, Fernandez embarked on his culinary career as commis de cuisine and chef de partie in small Michelin-starred restaurants in Barcelona. The Spanish-born Fernandez earned his degree from The Culinary School in Barcelona and worked at Hotel Arts Barcelona before bringing his talents stateside. Joining The Ritz-Carlton in 1997, he worked at properties in Laguna Niguel, Calif.; New York City; Tucson, Ariz.; and Pentagon City, Va.
What three go-to ingredients are always in your home kitchen?
Extra-virgin olive oil, bay leaves and garlic. And I always have dried chilies. In the spring and summer, we usually have a small lemon verbena plant — best sorbet ever!
What’s your favorite season for cooking, and why?
Spring and summer; I am from Spain and grew up by the Mediterranean Sea. The temperatures are mild compared to the United States, giving me the opportunity to showcase produce such as asparagus, potatoes, tomatoes and summer fruits like melons. After long winters, nothing is better than going to the farmers market on a spring or summer morning and seeing the bounty and color of fresh produce.
Aside from your current position, what’s the best job you’ve ever had?
If I look back at my career, I really enjoyed my time in New York. I spent many years in that city, where I learned a lot and had the opportunity to work for great chefs in wonderful restaurants.
What’s the first meal you ever cooked?
When I was 14 or 15 years old, I helped my mother and grandmother create a holiday family meal. We made classic Catalan cannelloni, Spanish ham and Manchego croquettes.
The Peninsula Chicago
108 E. Superior St.
Chicago, IL 60611
tel 312 337 2888
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