Chef Fernando Ruiz is a king of Southwestern and Mexican cuisine, holding the distinction of being a three-time Food Network Champion. Ruiz won Guy’s Grocery Games, Chopped and most recently, beat the nearly unstoppable Bobby Flay. Chef Ruiz brings decades of experience in the Santa Fe region to Escondido, his first signature restaurant, opening in 2023.
Chef Fernando Ruiz now holds the distinction of “beating Bobby Flay.” Ruiz recently competed against the legendary chef on the popular Food Network show BEAT BOBBY FLAY and, to the delight of culinary fans everywhere, took home the top honor with his chiles en nogada dish. The New Mexico-based chef gives all the credit to his wife, Michelle Romero, who encourages him and pushes him to be his very best every day. Ruiz says of his wife, “It is true that behind every great man is an even greater woman.”
No stranger to the Food Network, Ruiz first gained notoriety by winning the competition show GUYS GROCERY GAMES. A year later, with more support and encouragement from his amazing wife, he returned to the popular cable network to compete on yet another show, CHOPPED. Once again, he did not disappoint by winning this contest too.
Ruiz was born in Phoenix, Arizona. His early years were spent in Phoenix and on the family ranch in Mexico. At 13, he started running with a gang, trafficking weapons and drugs. At the age of 16 he got his first taste of “reality” when he was arrested for possession of weapons and drugs. At eighteen, he got “busted” again. Ruiz spent his 20th and 21st birthdays in jail. It was while incarcerated that he earned his G.E.D. Upon release, he went straight into culinary school, graduating in 1999.
Fernando worked in Vail, Colorado, for four years before moving to New Mexico 18 years ago. In New Mexico, Fernando met the love of his life, Romero. They moved in together after knowing each other for only two days. Fernando had given up on cooking, but Romero, seeing something in him that others did not, encouraged him to return to the culinary arts.