Park City

Chimayo’s Arturo Flores’Journey from Lawyer to Head Chef

Park City restaurateur Bill White has a keen eye for talent. A mentor to many of his employees, he has managed to keep most of them around for years, if not decades. One example is Arturo Flores, Executive Chef of Bill White’s Chimayo restaurant — a fixture on Park City’s Main Street for 27 years.


Arturo has been working in Bill White’s restaurants for nearly 30 years, since moving to the US from Mexico City. But a culinary career wasn’t always a goal for Flores. He attended and graduated from law school, passed the bar to become a lawyer, then did a 180-degree turnabout by deciding to abandon the world of law for a world of flavor. 

Soon after passing the bar, he realized that “his passion was not in the courts, but rather in the kitchen.” That passion is in evidence throughout the Chimayo menu, from his coffee-rubbed filet mignon, sugarcane elk skewers, and pepita-crusted Chilean sea bass, to delectable dishes like his duck enchiladas with honey-roasted duck, grilled onions and peppers, crisp duck leg confit, white bean relish, and poblano verde sauce. 

Flores’ Mexican heritage and culinary influences shine in menu items such as Puerto Nuevo-style seared sea scallops with pineapple-jalapeño beurre blanc, a dish that fuses French technique with Latin flavors, as do many of Flores’ inventive creations.

Flores gratefully credits Bill White for his mentorship and for giving him an escape from the world of law. As is the case with many talented chefs, he didn’t start his cooking journey in the kitchen, nor did he attend culinary school. Arturo began his culinary career — again, as so many chefs have — as a dishwasher. Through the years, he would eventually work his way up the restaurant food chain, serving as a food runner, kitchen prep chef, line chef, expeditor, and ultimately, as Chimayo’s Executive Chef. Never having attended culinary school or having had any formal cooking training, Flores says Bill White inspired him to achieve the culinary heights he has, and is largely responsible for the cooking knowledge he’s attained over the years. 

Interior of Chimayo. Photos by Dung Hoang.

But some cooking traits are in his blood. For example, the popular tortilla soup on the Chimayo menu is based on his grandmother’s recipe, made with fresh tomatoes, cilantro, chunks of chicken, and spices — made daily from scratch the way grandma would have done. 

A lover of bold flavors, Flores keeps things fresh by using seasonal, local ingredients whenever possible. A good example is the amazing and eye-popping crown roast barbecued spareribs at Chimayo, which are given a caramelized chipotle glaze made with molasses, chipotle peppers, guajillo chiles, lime juice, onion and more, before being served with onion rings, mashed potatoes, and hominy salpicón. 

Not that all of Flores’ dishes are as complicated as those ribs. In fact, some aren’t even “cooked.” His killer ceviche, for example, is raw Gulf shrimp and mahi-mahi bathed in an acidic citrus broth which “cooks” the seafood, flavored with cucumber, onion, cilantro, and hot serrano chiles.

Even something simple like queso fundido is made spectacular by Flores. It’s a heavenly blend of asadero, manchego, and gruyère cheese with grilled jalapeño-tomato salsa, served with homemade parmesan flatbread and housemade corn tortilla chips. From dishwasher to Executive Chef, Arturo Flores has put his stamp on the Park City culinary scene with exceptional talent and a passion for food and cooking. Most people who know him have heard him sum up his life and profession by saying, “I just really love food!”


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