Born in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, Nelson Millán, Executive Chef of the Vaquero Club in Westlake, Texas, began his professional career at an early age. Cooking was not Millán’s initial career choice, as he was working toward a degree in Political Science at the University of Puerto Rico. With just a year left of his studies, an opportunity for a scholarship at the School of Hotel and Tourism in San Juan arose. Over the next two years, he studied intensely in the classroom as well as the kitchen. Upon graduation, Nelson accepted an internship with Hilton Hotels.
Millán’s career started taking off when he began competing nationally and internationally as part of the Junior, and later Senior, Team of the American Culinary Federation. Following numerous competitions in Puerto Rico, South Carolina and New York, and after winning several gold and silver medals, Millán continued his travels from the Caribe Hilton in San Juan to the Aruba Hilton, and ultimately the Noga Hilton in Geneva, Switzerland, to sharpen his culinary skills.
After opening and operating a casual restaurant in downtown Rio Grande for three and a half years, Millán returned to the club and hotel industry as Chef Garde Manger of the Westin Rio Mar. He soon worked his way up to Assistant Executive Chef of that property’s country club. In 1999, Millán moved to Coronado, Calif., where he assumed the position of Chef Garde Manger at the prestigious Forbes 5-star/AAA 5-diamond Hotel Del Coronado. Millán soon progressed to become Chef de Cuisine for the hotel’s fine-dining and casual restaurants.
In 2002, Chef Millán joined the elite culinary team of the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Fla., as Chef Garde Manger and then promoted to Chef de Cuisine in 2005. In 2007, Millán moved to open the new Beach Club at The Cloister in Sea Island, Ga., an exclusive resort community that is part of the Sea Island Company. In 2010, Millán joined San Antonio Country Club as Executive Chef along with teaching Latin Caribbean Cuisine at the Culinary Institute of America’s San Antonio campus.
After nearly a decade with San Antonio Country Club and 28 years working in hotels, resorts and private clubs, Millán began a new journey in his career. Always having the dream of participating in the food manufacturing side of the industry, in 2019, Millán became Corporate Executive Chef of Kabobs, Inc. in Atlanta. However, his heart remained in the club and hotel industry, and he accepted his current position of Executive Chef of the Vaquero Club in 2021.
Millán has been a contributor for Club + Resort Chef and has presented at the Chef to Chef Conference. In, 2019 he was named Club + Resort Chef of the Year alongside Executive Chef Eva Barrios, CEC.
In addition to his culinary talent, Millán is also a very accomplished musician and carver of spectacular ice sculptures.