Encore Resort at Reunion is proud to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and honor the contributions of Hispanic staff members like Jason Hernández, who is the Food and Beverage Director and Executive Chef at Encore Resort at Reunion. With three powerful role models in his family, Jason learned that you can work hard at what you love. Here, he tells us about how growing up with his family in the Dominican Republic influenced his decision to become a chef.
What do you like most about your job at Encore Resort at Reunion?
The thing I love the most about my job and waking up every day happy about work is just being around people. I get really excited when I can create a dish or put a meal together for someone and make them so happy about it. That goes back to my culture and bringing people together.
How did you become interested in the culinary field?
At a very young age, I admired the cooking of my grandma, whom I call Mamá. When I lived with her for a period of time, I saw her going to the farmer’s markets in the Dominican Republic. She would pick up fresh vegetables — avocados and potatoes and fresh herbs. It was an amazing experience, and I owe all the flavor profiles and identifications I’ve learned to her.
Your father was also in the food industry. What did he teach you?
My dad started working at a young age. To him, it was always work, work, work and make sure that you are taking care of your family. It was always about being at work and doing your best. He’s a butcher by trade. So, at about 10 or 11 years old, I went to the butcher shop with him. He taught me that you have to work hard and you have to work for what you want.
What was your mother’s role in your decision to become a chef?
My mother encouraged me to do whatever I wanted in my life and not to settle. She said to me, “Do what you want. Do what makes you happy. Don’t ever feel you have to do a job just because that’s what’s left. Do what you feel passionate about.”
How do you think your family’s Hispanic culture has affected your career?
We always had huge family gatherings, and it was always groups being together. My Hispanic background is all about family. When you have family, you have food and they go together. One of the reasons that I love what I do is because I still feel that togetherness when I’m at work. When I can create a dish or create a meal, I’m bringing those families together.