Chef Fernando Valladares



“It is very important to stay humbled, inspired,  
and to continue learning through passion of food."

Fernando Valladares, Executive Chef of Ground House and Co-Founder of Steel Pan Pizza credits his roots for finding passion in the culinary arts. Growing up in both Los Angeles and El Salvador, he’d watch his mother cook, asking questions and observing the technique. This simple observation and bond is what fueled his drive to create a career in culinary arts. His passion continued to grow after moving back to California and after finishing high school he applied to start a new adventure at Le Cordon Bleu. With the skills and mindset of a chef, he was able to intern at Charlie Palmer-a prestigious restaurant in Orange County- work at the very beautiful and grandiose St. Regis in Dana Point, and later moved to Los Angeles where he was able to fully dive into his culinary passion with Scott Conant at Scarpetta at the Montage, Beverly Hills. With all these prestigious notches on his belt, he was able to join a team of culinary powerhouses and help create a multitude of food concepts. He currently holds the executive chef title at Ground House, a buzz-worthy burger concept, and assisted with the opening of the latest OC spot serving up Detroit-style pies, Steel Pan Pizza.

Although it would seem that Fernando’s resume has checked all the boxes when it comes to having culinary experience, he understands the importance of constantly learning. He believes in order to really thrive in the culinary industry one must stay humble, regardless of experience, repertoire, or accomplishments. Knowledge is power and to be a really good culinary artist there is always something new to learn. Fernando loves the art of the culinary world because he is able to share his creations through taste, sight and smell. Fernando gives big praise and much thanks to Mark Vergel de Dios from Ninjas with Appetite in Downtown Santa Ana for letting him be part of this exciting culinary adventure. He also gives much thanks and credit to Mark Gerald Cruz and Kevin Bobby Nguyen for giving him the chance to team up with them for the concept of Ground House.

Fernando believes the key concept to staying relevant in culinary arts is to “Stay humble, regardless of where you come from, [because] there is always something new that you can learn.”