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Chef Marc Quinones, the Runner

His secret to success, happiness and gratitude.

Executive chef, Marc Quiñones from MÁS Tapas y Vino in Hotel Andaluz, has more grit and perseverance than any chef I've met. He is continuously pushing his limits, and when you listen to Marc talk about his professional journey, you sense his drive and passion. He sounds more like a professional athlete than an executive chef. He trains to be his best, prides himself on his hunger to learn more, pushes his craft, and humbly admires and recognizes the talent of others. He wants to be the best, just like any pro athlete.

When you look at psychological factors that affect performance in a competitive context, we know that optimal levels of motivation, resiliency, attention, self-confidence, emotional self-regulation, interpersonal skills are all necessary for success. Marc often philosophizes about the qualities of his high-achieving colleagues and what factors have helped him succeed. He is very dialed into what leads to success.

Marc grew up in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother in the South Bronx of New York. His mother was very young when she had Marc, and he recounts, "We basically grew up together." Life in the Bronx taught him resiliency, forward-thinking, tenacity, and how to thrive in a challenging environment. "You've gotta show up every day, good or bad. That's how you make it. It's about longevity," says Marc. 

Recently, Marc invited me to join him and the Hotel Andaluz crew for a tasting of his new seasonal menu at MÁS. There were approximately 40 attendees for the unveiling of more than twenty new menu items. The opportunity to witness and interact with such a spectacular menu was a pretty unique experience! Marc took the time to explain ingredients, where they came from, and the preparation and inspiration for each dish. The amount of thoughtfulness that went into planning this menu is apparent.

I enjoyed my experiences of each dish, like the yummy hints of lemongrass in the Salt & Pepper Crab Legs, and how the award-winning New Mexico Duck Fat Fried Oysters melt in your mouth and the warm comfort of the Moroccan Beef Noodle dish. However, what I relished most was learning the level of vulnerability Marc endured in launching a menu so reflective of his upbringing and pride in his Puerto Rican culture. Marc is an innovator in our food culture, but he also appreciates the level of novelty people are ready to embrace. As a result, Marc doesn't push new food trends into Albuquerque with force. Instead, he waits until Albuquerque is ready for new experiences.

The new menu includes many dishes Marc grew up cooking and eating with his family. Although now elevated versions, you get the sense of love and that distinct feeling of being cared for in every flavourful bite that I imagine Marc experienced as a kid. You can tell that Marc enjoys pleasing his guests, and he goes the extra mile to create a meaningful connection with them through his food and in person. His attention to detail, patience, and desire to create meaningful experiences are attributes that enable Marc's continued success.

Marc has several awards for his dishes and has become a television celebrity. Google him, and you'll find his IMD profile and an extensive list of his accomplishments. He is brilliant in the art of food presentation, he knows how to build a great brand, and he is a fierce leader. But, more so, he's just a nice guy. He cares about his community and shows this through his volunteer efforts with kids and adults alike. He loves to build people up and help them discover their resiliency.

Marc is a family man, married now for twelve years, and has three children (ages 20, 11, and 7). His middle child, Truth, is following in his father's footsteps and can be spotted helping in the kitchen at MÁS or the Downtown Farmer's Market with dad. Marc is very passionate about sourcing locally and supporting our local food economy, and I bet he loves having his son in tow while he handpicks ingredients. 

Oh, did I mention he's a marathon runner too? Yeah, Marc decided to become a marathon runner in 2017 and ran his first full marathon just one year later. In the past three years, he has run eight full marathons and isn't stopping anytime soon. Ultimately, he wants to qualify for the Boston Marathon. This is so Marc! He keeps aiming higher and higher…

In June of 2017, Marc explained he was "fed up" with himself and decided he would no longer make excuses for being unhealthy. Sixty pounds lighter and way wiser, Marc professed in a social media post, "I've learned that nothing else matters more than consistency." In addition, Marc created a running journal on Instagram (@chefmqtherunner) to inspire others to begin their health journey and never give up. Every day is the start of progress.

Marc runs daily, coasting an easy six miles! Running is his "escape" from the stress that comes with the demands built into his busy life. Marc knows that running helps him perform at his best. Frankly, I think it's all the black coffee he drinks, but I agree that an active lifestyle is a primary key to personal success. 

Marc's 180-degree lifestyle turnaround has profoundly impacted his ability to sharpen all aspects of his life. As a result, he is more present, happy and creative in his professional and personal life. Marc has always had talent, motivation and drive. He learned from his health journey that striving to get a little better every day is how you win the short race and the marathon.

With so many accomplishments, you might not expect Marc to be humble, but he is. I asked him what he is most thankful for, and his response was this:

"I wake up every day thankful that I get to do what I do. Sometimes I can't believe how lucky I am and that it keeps growing. I am thankful for all the people that support and believe in me. Without them, I wouldn't be here." 

As expected, Marc exudes gratitude. Everyone can find inspiration in his story and strive to be a little better every day and a little more grateful this Thanksgiving. He was also gracious enough to share his secret to successfully cooking a turkey: