FOOD & MIXOLOGY The food min­istry of Chef Alexis Her­nan­dez

GA Voice - - Food & Mixology -

“How fast can you carve a tur­key? How fast can you de­bone a chicken? Can you do the job or not? That’s what peo­ple care about in the kitchen. I love liv­ing my life. I’m a proud gay man and I don’t feel any lesser.”

—Chef Alexis Her­nan­dez

By DAR­IAN AARON

Chef Alexis Her­nan­dez has been called to min­is­ter. And like many who have been given the bur­den and re­spon­si­bil­ity of shar­ing their God-given gifts with the world, he ini­tially wanted no part of it. Her­nan­dez’s min­istry is food and what he pro­duces weekly as sole owner and ex­ec­u­tive chef of Union Hill Kitchen in Cham­blee is noth­ing short of a re­li­gious ex­pe­ri­ence.

Whether he’s en­ter­tain­ing mil­lions on tele­vi­sion as a con­tes­tant on “The Next Food Net­work Star” or tak­ing down the com­pe­ti­tion as the win­ner of Sea­son 5 of “Cut­throat Kitchen,” there’s a lit­tle bit of Her­nan­dez on ev­ery plate; bold, ex­pres­sive and Cuban.

Ge­or­gia Voice caught up with the openly gay chef on a lovely Satur­day af­ter­noon for lunch, and for the next two hours sur­ren­dered to the ex­pe­ri­ence and the jour­ney that led Her­nan­dez to trade the pul­pit for the kitchen.

Ge­or­gia Voice: You have a de­gree in the­ol­ogy. The two worlds couldn’t be more dif­fer­ent.

Alexis Her­nan­dez:

I thought I could go down that road of be­ing in min­istry and now I try to help peo­ple that are here (Union Hill Kitchen). My cook that’s in the back was the dish­washer. My sous chef has never been to culi­nary school. She came in as a server and I’ve been train­ing her and breath­ing life into her and do­ing what I would be do­ing in the min­istry. I can’t make you a doc­tor but I can use my min­istry and teach­ing abil­ity to give you a skill.

Is the in­fu­sion of your Cuban back­ground into the cui­sine at your restau­rant a con­scious choice or did it hap­pen or­gan­i­cally?

that I’ve [stodged] with. I re­mem­ber one of the chefs I worked with said, “You’re noth­ing. You need to be noth­ing. In or­der for you to find your­self, you need to lose your­self in me. I don’t care that you’re Cuban, I don’t care that you sur­vived a hur­ri­cane in Cuba sit­ting in a hut. You need to lose your­self to find your­self, cause if not, you’re not go­ing to learn any­thing.”

What ex­actly did he mean when he said you had to lose your­self?

Is it true that you were ini­tially against open­ing your own restau­rant? Chef Alexis Her­nan­dez is a four-time 2014 Ge­or­gia Voice Best of At­lanta win­ner. (Photo by Pa­trick Saunders)

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