The famous Mission Inn in Riverside boasts four restaurants of various cuisine, serves brunch for over 1,000 people every Sunday, hosts multiple weddings and events on the weekends, and rigorously attends to the needs of the hotel’s guests. Previous executive chefs have fled from the ominous demands of the job and some did not stay for more than a couple of months. Luckily, Chef Richard Mendoza has met the challenge and made a home for himself at the Mission Inn for the past nine months. It is his passion for cooking and overall vivacious nature that attracted him to culinary challenges.
Chef’s interest in food first began at his grandmother’s restaurant in Mexico. He loved to watch her helped cook and help out around the restaurant as much as a young eight-year-old boy could. After graduating high school in the States, Richard knew he wanted to be a chef and soon after secured a job as a line cook at The Westin Bonaventure in L.A. and an apprenticeship with the head chef. Soon, Chef Richard began culinary school at L.A. Trade Tech while still working full-time at the hotel where he was promoted to the position as chef de cuisine shortly after graduating. He continued to work for many years in hotels and enjoyed learning about the front of house and the business aspect of restaurants. Moving to 21 Oceanfront as the executive chef was a new experience that Chef Richard enjoyed for four years. He then worked for Hilton for three years, worked in downtown L.A. for six more years, and then finally arrived at The Mission Inn where the general manager recommended him.
Being thrown into an executive chef position at the hotel’s peak season was a challenge that Chef took on with a smile. The owners of the hotel, Kelly and Duane Roberts, have great pride in their establishment and have put their trust in Chef Mendoza by giving him creative freedom in the many menus he oversees. Chef takes pride in his traditional kitchen with modern twists. Some of his spins on classic dishes include filet mignon fajitas and lobster tacos. In this way, Chef feels like he can satisfy the restaurants’ regulars while keeping the menus interesting. Though he used to get write-ups for not wearing a hat in the kitchen to preserve his gelled-up hair, Chef has been wearing his signature traditional toque now for years. He feels that it is important to look sharp and professional to the hotel guests.
One perk of his new job is that he has his own organic garden atop the hotel where he grows fresh herbs and vegetables for the dishes on his menus. The garden is not only convenient and provides fresh ingredients, but it also allows Chef to relax and tend to the garden when he has the time. Chef Richard is passionate about every aspect of his restaurants. From accommodating picky child eaters in the front of house, to passing on wisdom to aspiring chefs working under him, Chef is truly a humble, talented, and all-around extraordinary executive chef that will go the extra mile for his customers as well as his staff. No one loves their job more than Chef Richard Mendoza.
CHEF DE CUISINE
From the Chef’s Mouth
The Mission Inn
Daily – 6 am to 10 pm
– Kitchen Gadget or Tool: $20 knife
– Kitchen Appliance: montague oven
– Cookware: non-stick pan
– Condiment/Spice: saffron
– Dish to eat: Chicken mole
– Junk Food: Ice cream
– Raw Ingredient: Ahi tuna
– Fast Food: street tacos
– Food TV: Travel Chef
FIRST HOSPITALITY JOB I was a line cook (Bonaventure Hotel Los Angeles).
YEARS OF CULINARY EDUCATION: 3 years
SCHOOL: culinary Arts LA Trade College
OTHER EDUCATION: westin F&B Management
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 24 years
MY LAST SUPPER OR RETIREMENT DINNER including beverage would be chicken mole & an ice-cold margarita.