Chef of Cantina Leña, Paco Hernandez Carrillo, spent his early years in Michoacan, Mexico, hanging around the kitchens of his great-grandmother, grandmother, mother and aunts, watching all three generations of his family laugh and cook together. When Paco was 10, he and his family moved to Wamic, Oregon.
Paco’s mother caters food professionally, so food has been a central theme throughout his life. He remembers one of his first experiences cooking on his own was in fifth grade when his mom signed him up for a cooking class, and he made nachos!
Paco decided to follow in his mother’s culinary footsteps and enrolled in the Western Culinary Institute (Le Cordon Bleu) in Portland, Oregon. During school and after graduation, he cooked at a couple of restaurants around Portland, before moving to Tacoma, Washington, to run AmeRAWcan Bistro.
In 2014, Paco took a leap and opened his first restaurant, Viva, in Tacoma, and was chef there for two years before stepping away to pursue further experience. After deciding on Seattle as his next destination, he searched for a chef he’d be proud to work with and learn from, finally settling on Tom Douglas. Paco started out at Cantina Leña and quickly rose through the ranks to become chef of the restaurant in December of 2018.
When he’s not making delicious Mexican food at Cantina Leña, Paco enjoys his days off with his family- Katie, Luna, and Martyn- at the park, watching movies, or at his son’s sporting events.