Nopalito | San Francisco, CA
Gonzalo was born in a small village in Veracruz, Mexico. He grew up working in the fields, cooking with his mother and helping support his family from a very young age. When Gonzalo was 14 he came to San Francisco to pursue a career in cooking. He started washing dishes at the infamous McArthur Park, where he quickly became a prep cook. A year later he moved four doors down the street to help open Kokkari Estiatorio, where he met Chef Laurence Jossel.
In 2000, Gonzalo was tapped to be an opening Lead Line Cook at Chez Nous, an acclaimed small neighborhood restaurant owned by Laurence Jossel and Pascal Rigo of La Boulange. Just over a year later, Gonzalo was a Sous Chef, running the line and helping plan the menu. By the time Gonzalo was 22, he was a Head Line Cook at the award-winning Boulevard Restaurant under Nancy Oakes. Three years later he helped open and manage Nopa alongside longtime friend and mentor Laurence Jossel. After working together off and on for nearly 10 years, Gonzalo and Laurence decided that it was time to open a restaurant where Gonzalo would not only be the chef but a partner as well. In 2009, Gonzalo, opened Nopalito on Broderick Street with partners Laurence and Allyson Jossel and Jeff Hanak. Three years later they opened their second location on Ninth Avenue near Golden Gate Park. In 2011, Nopalito established a full-service catering department specializing in sustainably sourced Mexican corporate lunches and festive weddings. Nopalito has been on the San Francisco Chronicles ’ Top 100 since it opened and was featured on the Food Network in 2013. Aside from running two restaurants and a full-service catering program, Gonzalo regularly teaches cooking classes at the San Francisco Cooking School. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and two children.