Indian Wells’ VUE Grille & Bar hired Nestor Ruiz as their new chef effective November 23. VUE is the ‘spot’ in the Coachella Valley to find award winning cuisine, creative craft cocktails, extensive wine and spirit selections, craft beers and friendly service.
“We are thrilled that Nestor has joined our team here at VUE,” said Scott Winant, VUE Food and Beverage Director. “We know that with his experience, creativity and understanding of local cuisine that he will be able to not only deliver dishes our regular guests know and love, but to add new items for residents and visitors to try each time they visit.”
Ruiz has been in the professional cooking business either as a sous chef or chef for the last 21 years. He began cooking at the age of 15 with his mother after school. Though cooking after school was a great joy and hobby for Ruiz, his father wanted him to have other responsibilities and asked Ruiz to work in the family’s jewelry business while in high school. Soon after working with his father, Ruiz realized that the jewelry business wasn’t his calling and instead began work in the kitchen at Sizzler, a restaurant known for steak, seafood and salad bar items.
Little by little, Ruiz worked his way up in the business. Around the age of 20, he became sous chef at Morton’s Steakhouse of Chicago. Soon after working at Morton’s, Ruiz took on another part-time job at La Quinta Resort & Club’s Morgan’s in the Desert. Ruiz was in charge of Morgan’s in the morning and Morton’s at night. While working at both restaurants, Ruiz met some influential people.
“One day I was cooking at the La Quinta Resort in the morning and when I looked up, it was George H. Bush standing in front of me,” said Ruiz. “He asked me my name and we started talking while I was making his breakfast. That same day when I was working at Morton’s at night, I heard someone say, ‘How’s it going Nestor?’ I looked up and it was George H. Bush again. Everybody in the kitchen thought I was friends with him.”
Over the next 10 years, Ruiz worked primarily in steakhouses including: Morton’s, N9NE at Morongo Casino, Falls and Ruth’s Chris. After he began working at Lavender Bistro in La Quinta, Ruiz was then given the opportunity to open Mélange, a restaurant at The Chateau at Lake La Quinta. The manager, whom Ruiz previously worked with at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, told Ruiz he could start his own menu and add whatever dishes he thought were appropriate.
“He basically gave me a blank piece of paper and told me to do whatever I wanted,” said Ruiz. “I ended up creating a menu and within that first week, I had a wedding of 150 guests. I was a little rushed and had to come up with a couple of dishes on the spot, but some of those became our signature dishes.”
Ruiz plans on bringing all of his skill and knowledge to the Vue Grille & Bar kitchen. While cooking and creating dishes, Ruiz ensures that each item is visually and aromatically pleasing and tastes even better. After reviewing the current menu, seeing what sold and what did not and adding his own menu items including a halibut dish, Ruiz is excited to hit the ground running at VUE and hopes to stay for a long time.
“I appreciate all the help that I’ve received in my career from other chefs who saw potential in me and helped me advance,” said Ruiz. “When I see one of my employees with great potential and willingness to work hard and try new things, I want to help them as much as possible to become a chef. I would like to thank everyone for believing in me and I hope to take VUE to the next level.”
If you’d like to see Nestor in action, click on the link to watch him cook a date and habanero shrimp and millet pilaf: https://youtu.be/w6tdPCVPoDU