Overcoming adversity since he was 16 years old, Chef Cruz has paved his own way in the culinary industry.
Kicking off his career as a dishwasher, Chef Cruz Nieves fell in love with the culture of the kitchen. Born in Puerto Rico, he waited to finish school until he joined his mother in Rochester, NY. Early in his career in the United States, Chef Cruz spent a stint of time in NYC working in Michelin-star kitchens, making his way up the ranks, and honing his culinary craft. Once he returned to Rochester to be with his mother, he continued to work with local restaurants. That’s where his talent really began to shine in the local community.
Now, Chef Cruz is one of Rochester’s most sought-after private chefs and is a popular consultant for restauranteurs. Focusing on great food and a great life, he finds balance in his work by investing in his physical health.
How he does it all
Balancing work with personal time and investing in his health: Chef Cruz makes time to spend at least one evening a week with his partner/family, and exercises daily.
Taking Thanksgiving off: With days off in short supply in the food industry, Chef Cruz has recently dedicated Thanksgiving to not working and fully focusing on family time.
Camping: Taking regular camping trips throughout the year allows for Chef Cruz to truly disconnect from his busy lifestyle and return refreshed.
Chef cruz answers your holiday cooking questions!
Q: “Do you have any special go-to cooking hacks for the holidays?”
A: “My favorite hacks for the holidays are probably so basic. I love a great turkey, bacon, avocado, and tomato sandwich with a side of “rellenos de papa” - stuffed potato balls. (The mashed potatoes are breaded with breadcrumbs and fried.) You can stuff these with just cheese, or sometimes, if the stuffing makes it to the next day, you can also use the stuffing and cheese.”
Q: “What’s your pro tip for the holidays?”
A: “My best pro tip for the holidays is not to start the day of. Maybe start the day before and get some prep done ahead of time. Sometimes, we try to do too much the day of, and that can backfire on us. Something as simple as getting your knife work done ahead of time could help you so much. And also, please, brine your turkey as long as you can. For hosting, definitely set up some [finger] foods for people to relax and snack on if you are behind. Lastly, make sure everyone is drinking and enjoying themselves.”
CHEF CRUZ’s FAVE BRUNCH RECIPES
Chorizo Potato Hash
• 1 Raw chorizo link
• 2 Eggs
• 1 Medium potato (medium diced)
• 1/2 Medium size white onion (medium diced)
• 1 Clove of garlic chopped
• 1 Pinch of oregano
• 1/4 Cup of shredded sharp cheddar
• 1 Tablespoon of cilantro
• Salt + Pepper to taste
1) Take the chorizo out of the casein and cook in a sauté pan with a little bit of oil–not too much since there’s a lot of fat in the sausage already. Add garlic.
2) Once the chorizo is cooked, take it out and set aside.
3) Add potatoes and cook them at a medium heat. When potatoes are almost cooked, add diced onions and the pinch of oregano. By the time the onions are cooked, the potatoes should be, too.
4) Add chorizo back into the pan and toss everything together.
5) In a nonstick pan, fry eggs to your preference. I like mine over easy; they make for good presentation.
6) In a bowl, add hash to the bottom; then add the cheese on top and finish it off with the eggs and chopped cilantro.
Like it spicy? Add some chopped pickle jalapeños to garnish.
Smoked Salmon Toast & Soft Scrambled Eggs
• 2 Eggs
• 1/2 Tablespoon of butter
• 1 Piece of toast
• 2 Slices of cold smoked salmon
• A few thin slices of red onion
• 10-12 Small capers
• Salt + Pepper to taste
1) This recipe is all about getting the eggs just right.
2) Warm up a nonstick pan and melt butter.
3) In a small bowl, whisk your eggs very well and add a pinch of salt.
4) If the butter is melted, add the eggs to the pan and stir them in on medium low heat. The trick is to never stop whisking the eggs.
5) When the eggs form, remove them from the heat and stir constantly to reduce temperature.
6) Repeat this process for about 10-12 minutes. The eggs should be soft and almost custard/cheese-like.
7) Toast bread and add the eggs on top; then garnish with the capers and red onion. Add your smoked salmon on top and finish with a few cracks of fresh black pepper.
You can follow Chef Cruz on IG @chefcruz585 to check out more of his work and see what he’s up to on the daily. No two days in the life of a chef are ever the same, but they are always delicious!