Will Rivera October 01, 2016
A native of Agua Dulce, Texas [pop. 828], Will Rivera grew up eating farm-to-table before it was a 'thing.' Between his mother's adventuresome repertoire of good home cooking, and his father's ability to prepare anything that came back from a hunting trip, they ate very well, indeed -- and it was not lost on young Will. The hunting culture, and a job at a butcher shop at age seventeen, brought out his talent for butchery while he was still in high school.
Rivera trained at the Culinary Program of the Art Institute of Dallas, working simultaneously at the Gaylord Texan as a prep cook; at age nineteen, he was banquet chef of the busy resort's Old Hickory Steakhouse. Heading north to Napa after graduation, he landed at Farm at The Carneros Inn, starting in pastry plating and working his way up to lead line cook before he returned to Texas. In San Antonio, he was hired as sous chef at Lüke, where, as luck would have it, his chef de cuisine was Steve McHugh. The two former farm boys started the restaurant's charcuterie program, an effort that prepared them well for their current venture: McHugh's acclaimed restaurant, Cured, star of the Pearl Brewery complex revival, where the centerpiece of the menu is the dazzling selection of house-cured meats. While the extensive renovations for Cured were underway, Rivera gained a year's experience as tournade at the Carmel Valley Ranch on the California coast.
Will Rivera is now chef de cuisine of Cured, where his focus is management and menu development, working hand-in-hand with chef Steve McHugh to bring dishes of exceptional purity, integrity, and goodness to the San Antonio public. His favorite? "I love anything and everything we do with lamb!" he reveals. "The lamb section of our menu is constantly evolving through the seasons, and whether it's a tartare with raw quail egg on toasted brioche, or braised with a wild mushroom ragoût, it's always my top pick."