Originally from Intipuca, El Salvador, Rufino Bautista was raised on a farm just outside of the city. As a young man, he helped his father with the daily chores of tending to the animals and maintaining the fields. This is where Bautista developed his understanding and passion for food. In 1996, he moved to Washington D.C. where he found restaurant work as a busser. Looking for something more challenging he applied to Asia Nora, where he first met Chef Haidar Karoum. Bautista started out as the restaurant’s expeditor, one of the most demanding positions in any restaurant. Chef Karoum took notice of Rufino’s abilities and brought him into the kitchen full time, where he taught him the fundamentals of technique.
When Mark Kuller and Chef Karoum opened Proof they brought Rufino along, first as a line cook and subsequently as Proof’s sous chef. At Proof, Chef Bautista honed his culinary skills, helping Haidar and the kitchen create one of DC’s culinary destinations. When Estadio opened, Rufino was tapped to be the restaurant’s Chef de Cuisine, where he works closely with Chef Karoum to fashion and execute Estadio’s contemporary but classic Spanish menu.