Minor’s has been the proud sponsor of the ACF for over 50 years and the Dr. L.J. Minor Chef Professionalism award for over 30 years. The award honors active, working chefs and recognizes the ACF chef who best exemplifies the highest standard of professionalism through certification, continuing education and training, culinary competitions and community involvement. It honors culinarians who help elevate the status of chefs and cooks in the United States, like Chef Fernando.

Meet the Chef Behind the Award


Congrats, Chef Fernando! What does it mean to win this award?

To me, the biggest thing that it means is that hopefully all the stuff that my mentors have taught me over the years, and the hard work and dedication that came with it paid off a little bit. My hope is that one day I'm sitting in the audience when a young person that was in the audience when I won the award is making a speech because they’re being celebrated that night. I hope winning the award helps inspire other experienced chefs to find someone and mentor them. You never know when you might change someone’s life just by teaching them something they didn't know before.

You’ve worked hard to get to this moment. Can you tell us a little bit about what got you here?

So I started cooking when I was about 14 years old. My dad was a chef for 40 years before he passed, and so he was my inspiration for becoming a chef. I worked my way up in restaurants around the Chicago area, and then eventually I made my way into sports and entertainment arenas, working for baseball parks, NFL stadiums and private country clubs before making my way to Executive Chef.

What has been your favorite experience so far in your career?

My favorite experience has been having the opportunity to work with, and learn from, very talented chefs. I love cooking. I love creating dishes. I love helping other chefs work toward reaching their goals, so that’s really been the best part.

Speaking of learning & growing. How has Dr. L.J. Minor inspired your career?

Dr. L.J. Minor has been a great inspiration. I remember going to my first ACF convention and learning about everything he did for the careers of culinary professionals. I was a student at the time, and I remember sitting at one of the lunches where the award was being presented thinking that'd be me one day.

Thanks to Dr. L.J. Minor, there are so many more opportunities for chefs now than there were back then. Many years ago, there were only a handful of expensive culinary schools and you had to learn through an apprenticeship to get anywhere in this industry. This made it really challenging for many communities to break into this world. Now, there are community colleges with really robust culinary programs that aren’t going to cost you an arm and leg. Because Dr. L.J. Minor helped make learning more accessible, he has opened the doors for so many, many chefs that have made a huge impact on where we are today.

What was it like to win alongside this year’s regional winners?

It was really neat. They were some of the first chefs I met when I joined the ACF all those years ago. So they're all good friends of mine, and to share the stage with them is really special.

Okay, last question. You mentioned you learned a lot from your father. What do you think he’d say about you winning the award?

I think my dad would be very proud. He was one of my biggest supporters, and my inspiration. We cooked together for many years. He used to tag along with me to competitions or for certifications, so I think if he were here today he’d be telling everybody that he knew that his son won the award. I’m sure he was smiling down at the awards ceremony and cheering me on.

Anything else you’d like to share with our community?

I really want to thank Dr. L.J. Minor, the Minor family and the Minor’s company for all the support that they've given to chefs. Because of their contributions, we’re able to be here today.