Immigrant Orange County executive chef fulfills his American dream

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Mexican immigrant goes from dishwasher to executive chef at high-end Orange County restaurant. (KABC)

The menu at Bistango restaurant in Irvine is artfully crafted by an executive chef with an extraordinary story. It's American cuisine with French and European influences, but you'll also find hints of his homeland, with dishes like the Yellowfin Tuna Crudo.

"I put jalapenos. They are sort of sweet but at the end they give you a nice kick. I make a puree. It's a little bit spicy. People like it," Javier Montoya said.

He never trained in top culinary cities or schools, instead he learned the art of haute cuisine working his way up the ladder for the past 30 years in Orange County. But before working at this high-end restaurant, his life started in a small charming town across the border.

"I'm from the state Guanajuato in Central Mexico. That's where my parents are from," Montoya said.

Like millions in our country, Montoya left everything he knew and loved behind.

"I was 16. It's scary, it's not easy. It's not only dangerous, it's expensive. I mean obviously you hope for the best. Soon after a friend called me. That's where I started as a dishwasher. Right then and there I started learning the kitchen," he said.

Then, a young restaurateur named John Ghoukassian opened a cafe called, "Bistango," and this is where Montoya was given the opportunity of a lifetime.

"That was my first job in the kitchen. John decided to give me a chance to be at the front of the restaurant. So 30 years later here I am! I don't know how else to put it, but you have to work hard. It's a big reward. You go home tired, but happy. It's the American dream," said Montoya with a big smile.

He says the recipe for success is simple: "I have met the right people. I treat people with respect and therefore treated with respect and allowed me to make a difference."

To learn more about Bistango Restaurant click here.

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