Chef Jonathan Gutierrez

Bio Jonathan Gutierrez Santiago, Executive Sous Chef UC Merced

 Chef Jonathan Gutierrez Santiago’s passion for food began early on his toddler years in his home country, Mexico. Growing up in the rural states of Morelos and Hidalgo Mexico, trendy words like scratch cooking, organic, sustainable, locally sourced were all an integral part of his lifestyle without him knowing.

His professional career began at 19 years old when he became a Kitchen Supervisor for two locations of The Counter Burger in California’s Bay Area. From there, he continued to develop his skillset and leadership skills in 15 million+ restaurants like the Cheesecake Factory and Lazy Dog Bar & Grill. In 2020, he moved to Central Valley city of Merced where he learned bulk cooking by working for the county jail. Hyatt Hotel’s renovation of the Merced El Capitan Hotel and their world-famous Michelin-starred Chef Quentin Garcia (Dragsholm Slot) brought Jonathan to learn at their sister restaurant, Mainzer by Hyatt. Here, he further developed his culinary skills and began his path to explore the central valleys bounty of locally sourced food.

From there, he began his career at UC Merced as a cook and quickly transitioned to becoming a Sous Chef under ACF Monterey Bay Executive Chef’s, Mitchell Vanagten and Anthony Pangelina. With Chef Mitch and Chef Anthony’s support, Chef Jonathan has reshaped the way public school food is viewed in Merced County. His efforts have landed him the Executive Sous Chef position where he is entrusted with student and staff development, co-development of a smart farm program, menu creation, sustainability, campus collaboration and event planning, quality assurance, food cost accuracy, production, procurement of equipment, recruitment and externships, ServSafe manager proctor.

Some highlights at UC Merced Include having over 85% of fruits and vegetables being organic, grown by BIPOC farmers within 150 miles of UC Merced. Transitioning to higher end grassfed, free range proteins through Cream Co Meats. Utilizing 18 different crops grown within their garden and finalizing the first crop grown in UC Merced’s smart farm (Available Fall 2024) aimed to eventually make UC Merced self-sustainable within vegetables.

Chef Jonathan continues to be an active ACF Monterrey Bay member and continues learning under fellow ACF Chefs, including mentors like President Monterey Bay Chefs Asscoiation and Executive Chef  Chef Jacques Wilson, CEC, AAC and Chairman of the Board, Executive Chef Soerke Peters. He spends his spare time supporting and volunteering for his local community and spending time with his son, Angel Kayden Gutierrez.