Fermin Nunez, Mastermind behind Suerte ATX

What do you get when you mix the traditional flavors of Mexico with the unique zest of ATX? The colorful, charming restaurant - Suerte.

Kayla Giles       Profiles       08.08.2018

Residing on the East Side of Austin, Texas, Suerte has been drawing in admirers for almost four months. Foodies are raving about the beautifully handcrafted menu paired with the vibrant aesthetics of the restaurant. And who, you might ask, is the culinary artist your taste buds should be thanking? Executive Chef Fermin Nunez and his team. Fermin has had a life-long love affair with Mexican cuisine but got his start in the industry in a rather interesting way.

Fermin spent his early years living in Mexico before moving to San Antonio, a city immersed in Mexican culture. After his first year of college, Fermin quickly realized he needed to find his passion in life.  “I went to UTSA for my freshmen year in San Antonio...It was the biggest party of my life.” Fermin jokes. But all jokes aside, Fermin was on the path of discovering what he enjoys the most - cooking. During his freshman year, Fermin read Kitchen Confidential and was immediately inspired. Drawn in by all the crazy stories Bourdain described that goes on behind the scenes in the kitchen, Fermin stayed hooked by the vibe of the kitchen and the art of cooking. His first cooking job in the schools' dorm cafeteria and thus began his love for the culinary industry.

“I made a menu where I wanted to eat everything on it” 
- Fermin Nunez, Executive Chef at Suerte when talking about his favorite menu items.

He graduated from a culinary school in Houston and ate his way through Europe; savoring the different flavors of Italy and Germany, whilst learning all about the culture of the food. Fermin came back to Austin and started as a line cook at the Mexican restaurant, La Condesa, and worked his way up to sous chef. Before making Suerte his home, the chef got a chance to work in different restaurants, learning how to cook other types of cuisine. When he got the opportunity to work at Suerte, he knew it was love at first bite.  “I know how to do Mexican food, it’s what I love and what I want to share this with everyone” and that’s exactly what he’s doing at Suerte (and pretty well if we must say).

So what does a dedicated chef do to relax and you know, be human?

 He makes sure he takes time to do the things he loves outside of the kitchen.  Fermin really stresses the importance of making time for yourself.  "If I can provide myself with just an hour of the day to not look at my phone, not check emails...just have Fermin time, it’s worth it.”  He makes sure to provide the same opportunities to his staff by scheduling two consecutive days off for everyone including himself.  During those days, you can catch him riding his bike on one of the trails in Austin, exploring a new city and getting inspired by the cuisine or listening to music. He’s constantly looking for new ways to re-charge and switch up his daily routine both in and out of the kitchen. This, Fermin says, helps him stay grounded and be 100% to lead his team and continue making those addicting snackcidents (see happy hour menu now, thank us later).

One thing you’ll notice about the menu at Suerte, is that all the ingredients for their delectable dishes are local to Austin.

Fermin accepted the challenge of free-styling Mexican dishes by substituting ingredients not native to Austin with ones locally grown. “There’s never going to be a pineapple in Austin, so we will never have pineapple on pastor tacos… but there’s beautiful peaches, beautiful beets” Fermin explained. Suerte is also centered around the Mexican staple, Masa. Masa is commonly used to make tortillas  “The tortilla is the canvas, that’s where the taco starts” and Fermin makes sure they are the highlight of the meal.

For Fermin, it’s not just about being a chef, but giving Mexican food the recognition it deserves. “When you start cooking and learning about what good food is, it’s always the Italian or the French but it’s never the Mexican.” Mexican food has a stigma of being cheap, but is not held to the same standard as other types of cuisine. Fermin is using Suerte to show that Mexican food can also be considered fine dining. It takes skill and talent,  “A lot of what we do in the kitchen is inspired by Mexican cooking techniques which is one of the craziest ways to go about cooking”. Fermin is crushing the cuisine scene and if you haven’t made your way to Suerte, you are missing out!

Visit them at 1800 E 6th St Austin, TX 78702. Four stars on yelp, would definitely recommend (seriously).

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