My passion for food began when I was five years old at my father's restaurant in a San Antonio Westside neighborhood. Some of my earliest memories include the aroma of freshly made tortillas from the next-door molino, meals of savory barbacoa and handmade tamales. My father’s firm hand and conviction of self-improvement through education encouraged me to leave home after high school to attend the Culinary Institute of America in New York and become a chef. Early on, my career took me to some of the most exclusive resorts in the country including the Mirage Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and the Four Seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara, California.
But it was my yearning for home, the love of my culture, and my entrepreneurial spirit that led me back to San Antonio. In 1994, I opened True Flavors Catering and quickly built a solid reputation. Since its inception, True Flavors has notably grown and earned national recognition for catering excellence. The most profound influence on my culinary style has been my extensive travels throughout Mexico. This time spent exploring the cultural nuances of each region’s art, agricultural, and street foods has shaped my vision to create authentic and accessible interior Mexican cuisine for American diners. My mission is to celebrate and preserve traditional Mexican food, ingredients and techniques. This mission serves as the guiding principle for creating unique dining experiences that reflect the rich and diverse flavors and culture of Mexico.
La Gloria is that vision realized. The menu reflects the culinary treasures I discovered in the pueblitos, mountains and coastal villages of Mexico-- from the aromatic carnitas of Michoacán and the succulent tortas ahogadas of Guadalajara, to the complex and refined tequilas born from Jalisco’s blue agave fields. Mexico’s colorful fruit stalls were my inspiration for The Frutería. This unique eatery offers fresh fruit cups, licuados (smoothies), tortas and tostadas during the day and by night, the space transforms into a contemporary Botanero offering botana-style Mexican tapas and fruit-infused specialty tequilas and cocktails.
A celebration of all things meat, El Machito specializes in mesquite-grilled meats prepared in the traditional style of the carne asadas of northern Mexico and campestre style of Guadalajara. I was influenced by the history, technique and artistry of the parrilleros (grill chefs) of Mexico and wanted to create a dining experience that brought this unique grilling style to San Antonio.
In 2016, I had the opportunity to bring the cuisine of Mexico and San Antonio to an international audience. MEXIco launched with two United Kingdom locations and features real, honest, home-cooked style food inspired by authentic Mexican recipes handed down through generations. Dishes represent the diverse flavors and styles of the vibrant regions of Mexico with some exciting new dishes and a San Antonio twist thrown in for good measure.
Growing up in San Antonio, I was also influenced by the Texas hill country. I’ve had the opportunity to showcase Tejano cooking at Tejas Steakhouse & Saloon, located in the scenic Texas Hill Country on the grounds of the Tejas Rodeo. The steakhouse honors the diversity of Texas cuisine by combining steakhouse classics with the flavors of interior Mexican. The menu features select Texas whiskey and bourbons.
Finally, I am very excited to introduce two new restaurant ventures to San Antonio’s emergent Southtown. Burgerteca reimagines the classic American hamburger and our signature burgers are inspired by the cooking traditions and regional flavors of Mexico. An extensive list of rum cocktails and local craft beers will be featured, as well as an onsite ice cream shop serving house made nieves (ice cream), paletas (popsicles), and raspas (shaved ice). Villa Rica celebrates the fresh seafood and flavors of coastal Mexico. The menu includes ceviches, a raw bar, and an eclectic variety of seafood tacos that will be the hallmark of this new seafood concept. The drink menu will feature unique twists on classic cocktails with fresh muddled fruits and a creative variety of mojitos, caipirinhas and pisco sours.
My hope is to share with our customers what I love most about Mexico: the vibrant culture, its hospitality and last, but certainly not least, its wonderful cuisine.
Hope you keep in touch and visit us at restaurants.
Johnny P. Hernandez
Philanthropy and Accolades
Chef Johnny Hernandez is a celebrated chef, entrepreneur, and founder and President of Grupo La Gloria and True Flavors Inc.. He is one of the premier Mexican cuisine chefs in the United States and a recognized authority on Mexican cuisine and culture.
Chef Hernandez has received acclaim in publications such as Texas Monthly, Bon Appetit, Poder, Saveur, Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure, Martha Stewart Magazine, Garden and Gun, NBC Latino, Tasting Table and Southern Living. He has been featured as a guest judge on Bravo’s Top Chef and has appeared on the Cooking Channel’s Man Fire Food and Simply Ming, as well as Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern and Food Paradise. In 2016, Chef Hernandez showcased his culinary expertise and the flavors of Mexico at the White House as Guest Chef for President Barack Obama.
In 2014, Chef Hernandez founded Kitchen Campus in memory of his father, Johnny Hernandez, Sr. who inspired him to pursue his culinary dreams. Kitchen Campus is a non-profit organization that encourages middle and high school students to pursue the culinary arts as a path to financial success. Students learn about food, nutrition, cooking, community involvement and leadership while exploring careers in the culinary industry.
Chef Hernandez established the City of San Antonio’s Culinary Task Force in 2015. Partnering with the City of San Antonio, Chef Hernandez and the task force members are tasked with highlighting current food and beverage endeavors to help establish San Antonio as a renowned culinary destination. Johnny also serves on many corporate and non-profit boards including the Alumni Board and Entrepreneurial Advisory Board of the Culinary Institute of America, the St. Philips College Culinary Advisory Board and the University of Houston hospitality college.
Chef Hernandez has acted as spokesperson and consultant to McCormick Spice Company, Aguacates of Mexico, the National Pork Board and The Culinary Institute of America. He was recognized by Hispanic Business magazine as one of the Top 50 Influential Hispanics, one of the Top 5 Hispanic Chefs in America by Siempre Mujer magazine and awarded the “San Pasqual Award of Culinary Excellence” by the New World Wine and Food Festival. In 2014, he was awarded the “Con Corazón” award from the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau for his continued work to spotlight San Antonio as a culinary leader and destination.
Chef Hernandez is currently working on his first book where he will share the beautifully vivid cultural journey that has shaped the foods of his restaurants.