EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of a planned series of "parting thoughts" on some of Cleveland County’s behind-the-scene stars—those who are making a difference both in their “day jobs” and as contributing members of our community.
NAME: Juan Melgoza
EMPLOYER: Anthony Compagni at Benvenuti’s Ristorante
Juan began working for Chef Anthony as a sous chef in Aspen, Colorado, and followed him to Norman in 2005, prior to opening Benvenuti’s the following year.
“He is my eyes and ears when I’m not there; he does everything I can’t get to it and makes sure everything is kept up to my standards,” Chef Anthony says.
Juan came to America from Mexico City when he was 19, working in Beverly Hills, California, first at an Italian restaurant, then to Aspen to work at Campo, where the two men became lifelong friends.
In addition to serving as sous chef at Benvenuti’s, Juan assists with all Benvenuti’s charity events.
1. CAN YOU SHARE A SPECIAL MEMORY?
When I met Anthony in Colorado for the first time, and he was a young sous chef then, I was skeptical of him and didn’t trust him. But after a time, we became friends, and when he became the head chef of Gusto, he asked me to come work with him. Now I’m his righthand man and part of his family. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
2. WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT?
I love making amazing food; even though I’m trained in Italian cooking, I really love making authentic Mexican cuisine.
3. WHAT IS YOUR DREAM FOR THE FUTURE?
I would like to open another restaurant featuring Mexican cuisine.