Born and raised in Ecuador, Chef Diego Pacuruco moved to the U.S. in 2004. His humble beginnings in the restaurant industry began with a stint as dishwasher at a notable Italian restaurant in New York City. However, due to his obvious culinary talent, he moved up the ladder quickly, and was promoted to pasta maker and then to chef, in a short span of time. Soon after that, Pacuruco was hired by Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener, which was still relatively new at the time, but gaining notoriety in the Big Apple.
Pacuruco’s big break came when he was selected to be part of the opening team for Wolfgang’s Steakhouse in Waikiki in 2009. He stepped off the plane and that was it for him – he immediately fell-in-love with Hawai‘i and made this his permanent home.
Pacuruco has worked hard over the years to hone his skills and was eventually promoted to Executive Chef for Wolfgang’s Steakhouse Waikiki location. When Wolfgang’s sister Italian restaurant, Il Lupino Trattoria & Wine Bar, was in need of an executive chef a few years later, Pacuruco was asked to take the helm in the kitchen there, utilizing his experience with Italian cuisine, which was also something he had wanted to return to. Pacuruco’s tenures as Executive Chef at two of the most popular restaurants in Waikiki, attest to his talent, and he was asked to be a guest on many television cooking shows and also participate in several chef events in the community. Wolfgang’s Steakhouse is one of the busiest restaurants in the state, many days seeing over 1,000 guests, so running the kitchen smoothly and assuring consistent taste and quality is no simple feat. At Il Lupino, Pacuruco’s attention to using the finest, authentic ingredients and making fresh pasta by hand each day, took the trattoria to new culinary heights and earned them several awards.
Chef Diego credits his mother as his strongest influence in becoming a chef. She made her children cook the family meal every day. He learned that hard work, passion and enthusiasm were important traits when cooking.
His personal style of cooking at home is Spanish-fusion, although he has adapted a bit to local-style cooking, as well. He has also “become the master of steak,” as he learned from Wolfgang Zwiener, himself, how to identify the different levels of beef and all the subtle differences of every grade and cut, and how to prepare them perfectly. He also loves making Italian dishes at home, and experimenting with different fusion styles.
“I always wanted to keep rising up to become a better and better chef, and understand every aspect of kitchen management,” said Pacuruco. “I’m grateful for all my experiences, and for getting to live in Hawaii, and I’m continuing to work hard to become the best chef I can be! It’s really a lifelong process – we never stop learning!”
On his days off, Pacuruco enjoys going to the beach and having a barbecue with friends and family. His schedule is usually non-stop so he really just likes to relax and lay back when he gets any free time. He is also the self-professed ”#1 Barcelona (soccer) fan,” and watches soccer at all hours, whenever he has a free moment.by