Executive Chef Ernesto Hernandez

Ernesto Hernandez

Executive Chef | Tortilla Jo's

For Chef Ernesto Hernandez, success is where passion and hard work meet. Born and raised in Mexico, Hernandez joined Los Angeles-based Patina Restaurant Group in 1996 and today serves as executive chef of Tortilla Jo’s in the heart of Downtown Disney. When reflecting back on his career spanning nearly two decades, he proudly attributes his rise in the ranks to his diligent work ethic, but he is quick to mention the many mentors he had along the way who taught him new lessons and helped him grow his love of the culinary arts.“I’ve been very lucky to work with some of Patina’s best,” he says. “Without the support and guidance from my mentor Chef Manfred Bachtrog, I would not be where I am today.”

Hernandez’s approach to his kitchen is meticulous and organized. Before his work in the kitchen at Tortilla Jo’s, he spent several seasons at Patina Restaurant Group’s Hollywood Bowl and learned the hard way the difference in cooking for 200 people to more 800—and that it’s truly all in the planning and preparation. To this day, Hernandez starts every shift by walking through his kitchen, checking in with his team, and making sure they are set up for success. “Preparation is very important when you cook for a lot of people, but it’s only half of it,” he explains.“The second part you can’t teach, and that’s the love.One of my mentors once told me, ‘When you make anything in the kitchen, it’s always for someone special,’ so that’s what I strive for with every dish.”

Outside of Tortilla Jo’s, when asked what he likes to cook, the chef laughs and says, “It was in an Italian restaurant where I really got my start and gained the passion for food and its preparation, so I love to make pasta from scratch.”Of course, he loves the cuisine of his upbringing and heritage, too. “But between Tortilla Jo’s and holiday gatherings at my house where I’m always expected to host, it’s nice to mix it up once in a while and make a classic seafood with linguini.”