Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Chef Steven Agosto developed a love of cooking early in his childhood as he spent time helping his Puerto Rican abuela (grandmother) in the kitchen. As Steven got older and into school and activities, he helped in the kitchen less and less until after graduating high school, he enlisted in the United States Army. Steven has the armed forces to thank for rekindling his love of cooking.
“There was only so much cafeteria food we could eat,” recalls Agosto. “On the off days we were granted leave, I had saved up my money and I went to Wal Mart. I got all the kitchen gadgets, a rice cooker, a small hot plate and a bunch of ingredients. Pretty soon, I cooked every so often for me and my bunk mates. But then other soldiers heard about my makeshift kitchen setup and they’d be knocking on my door asking me to help them cook their ingredients they brought over.”
Steven found his love of cooking growing once again. He started watching the popular cooking shows and scoping out farmers markets in the areas he was stationed. A training injury led to his discharge and while his Army superiors encouraged him to become a police officer, Steven carried through with is passion for cooking.
While stationed in Louisiana, he met his future wife in New Orleans who was originally from the Temecula, Calif. area. The couple moved to Temecula where Steven immediately started working in the kitchens of a few popular wineries.
He found out Pechanga Resort & Casino sought cooks for its extensive buffet. He applied and was accepted immediately. Two months later, the resort opened its new seafood and sushi restaurant Umi and he was promoted to a kitchen lead there. As Kelsey’s at Pechanga was in the midst of a complete menu and interior renovation in late 2015, culinary management tapped Steven for a supervisor chef position. He became instrumental in helping develop the menu into what thousands of guests come in for each week – authentic barbeque with proprietary rubs and spices, sauces, hearty salads, wood-fired pizzas and more.