Chef Fernando is co-owner of The Social Taco. He has more than 40 years experience in the restaurant industry and hails from Texas originally before he moved to NWA. With a degree in Restaurant and Hospitality management from the University of Houston, Chef Nando has opened dozens of large restaurants, fine dining restaurants ranked top 10 in the U.S., taught at the University of North Texas and was an Instructor at Le Cordon Bleu Dallas. He and his partner, who was raised in Springdale Arkansas, joined forces with a love and passion for gourmet food and put that love in a taco for all to enjoy.
How did you start your culinary journey to becoming a Chef?
As a dishwasher in an Italian restaurant with two ex-Navy Chefs. Navy Chefs are notorious for their cleanliness.
What makes a Chef a Chef and not a Cook?
Leadership and the ability to teach.
How did you end up in Arkansas?
My youngest daughter lives here and I was attracted to the thriving market of people hungry for good food, good taste and good tequila.
What is your favorite taco on the menu?
#1--The flavors in this with the corn relish and the queso are a big wow for me.
Why did you want to become a Chef?
I like to eat! My mother made me some sugar doughnuts when I was eight years old and they captivated me.
Have you always had the dream of opening your own restaurant?
Yes and No, I prefer to teach at a university or Culinary institution, which I’ve already done. Now I teach people through my own organization to develop chefs and leaders going forward.
How did you come up with the idea for The Social Taco?
I researched the most popular food in the United States, which is tacos, and the most popular word, social, and I liked the combination. I figured I could make anything in the world in a taco, and that is what we make for you.
Any words of Wisdom?
"Upon reflection of your life, look deep in the mirror.
If you see joy, peace and pride, then you made a difference
in all the lives you touched " - Chef Fernando Martinez