Clovis City Council honors chef who started from the bottom

Fresno native Ricardo Vasquez received a certificate from the City of Clovis in recognition of his Youth Outstanding Achievement Award presented to him by the Fresno Regional Workforce Development Board. BILLY XIONG/CLOVIS ROUNDUP

Ricardo Vasquez had nothing but a smile when he moved from Georgia back to his hometown of Fresno. Vasquez was unemployed and barely surviving, but always kept a positive attitude.

“There were days where I had no money to eat,” Vasquez said. “There were days where I had to sleep on the floor.”

Vasquez slept in the laundry room at his aunt’s house while trying to stretch the $800 he brought from Georgia.

As he kept his head up throughout the struggle, Vasquez finally found the break he needed. That break came from the Fresno Regional Workforce Development, who connected Vasquez with a job at Riley’s Brew Pub in Clovis.

Vasquez quickly fell in love with his job as a chef. At the same time, Vasquez’ coworkers fell in love with his work ethic and positive attitude.

On Monday, Sept. 17, Vasquez was recognized at the Clovis City Council meeting, where he received a Certificate of Recognition for the Youth Outstanding Achievement Award.  

“I had nothing when I worked my way up,” Vasquez said. “I’m not at the top yet, but I’m on my way there with a smile.”

Vasquez is grateful for the workforce program which helped him set the foundation.

“The workforce program helped me get ready for a job,” he said. “They would help me by donating clothes for job interviews. They gave me a recap on my resume, they showed me how to be professional.”

“Anybody who wants to be somebody can go through that program,” Vasquez added.

Before he started working at Riley’s, Vasquez had a short stint at the Elbow Room.

“I worked at the Elbow Room for two weeks,” he said. “They just loved my attitude, they loved my work ethic and they showed me a restaurant that needed help. They sent me to Riley’s.”

At Riley’s, Vasquez submerged himself into a passion he always had.

“I always had a passion for cooking,” he said. “I have always been in fast food when I was in Georgia. I finally made that step to go into an actual restaurant. I love making food, I love making people happy.”

The next step for Vasquez is to open his own restaurant.

“Make sure to go to Ricky’s Bar and Grill,” Vasquez said.

While he has come a long ways since coming back to Fresno, Vasquez remembers how he had to count on himself to succeed.

“In my mind, if you don’t have anybody to motivate you, you motivate yourself. Everybody has the potential to be somebody,” Vasquez said. “You always make yourself smile. Every day is a beautiful day with the right attitude.”