ENTREPRENEURIAL CHEF ADRIAN Perez, a budding actor, has cooked for the President and entertained the masses as a TV personality. In answering our influencer questionnaire, he gets deep about his life's struggles, the profound influence of strong women — and the best way to eat the entire Whataburger menu in one sitting.
What accomplishment are you most proud of? I was at my most defeated stage during my first year of business, going through a breakup, living in and out of my jeep in order to pay my commercial kitchen rent when I was given the opportunity to serve the late President George H.W. Bush and Mrs. Barbara Bush. My passion for people and service to others earned me a referral, and that opportunity gave me hope and strength to keep moving forward despite the daily obstacles and learning curves. The feeling of honor as I walked out that first day was overwhelming, and I finally closed that gap between wondering if I was going in the right direction in life or not.
Name three things on your bucket list. Cater for Garth Brooks at Rodeo while we sing at least one of his hits together on guitar. Be a guest on Super Soul Sunday with Oprah and talk about our life journeys. See all six of my abs.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be one of the X-Men and help people with the special gift I was born with.
If you weren't doing what you currently do for a living, what would you do? Honestly, I have about five different jobs all centered around creativity, communication, connecting, and entertainment, so I'm already doing all the things I wanted to do if I had not chosen my current profession. All of the things I get to do for work are things I love, and they all strangely stem from difficult or challenging situations or circumstances at one point.
Don't be modest: What's something you love about yourself? The ability to say I'm sorry, I was wrong, I messed up. I went from being a star employee at H-E-B for 11 years to being the boss and having to take full one-hundred-percent ownership of me, my business and life. I felt like a man of strength and integrity when I finally self-reflected and took responsibility for my mistakes. I felt truly masculine, not the toxic "masc" facade a lot of us put on as men.
What do you appreciate most in others? Authenticity is what I appreciate most in others. To be comfortable enough to be yourself, whoever that is in that moment. We are all different people to different people, but being human, vulnerable, taking responsibility and being a man/woman of your word is gold to me.
What's something you can't go without for more than a day? Listening to music or creating something.
You have an unexpected day off in Houston. How do you spend it? Gym, tan, laundry, hand-washing my car, creating or doing DIY projects at home, cruising around with the top down. Pizza!
Is there a new restaurant or bar in town you're loving? I love Riel, they have really delicious and unique dishes. Georgia James had great tequila!
Finish this sentence: Skinny-dipping is... the fourth thing on my bucket list.
Name-drop time: Who's the most famous person you've ever met (and how did that happen)? That's a toss-up between cooking for President Bush and Barbara Bush and that one time I walked out of brunch in L.A. I went over to the valet and noticed a woman and man standing right in front of me. Right away the movie Overboard popped in my head. It was Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell! I don't know who took over my body and mouth but I completely lost it and fanned out.
Tell us about your closet. Something new you love, and also something old? I just bought my fourteenth pair of Lucchese boots and if I didn't care about my sanity and self-esteem I would sleep, work out and shower in them. I have my dad's first pair of Lucchese boots he got for Christmas before I was born.
Your porn-star name is your favorite thing to cook plus your where you want to go on your next vacation. Go! Snapper Miami.
Your alternate porn-star name — they have those, you know — is your favorite Houston restaurant plus the label on the undies you're wearing right now. Barnaby Hugo Boss.
What would you choose as your last meal? The right side of the Whataburger drive-through menu — Whata-sized, no onions.
The dinner party question: Name three people, from now or any time in history, you'd invite as your perfect guests. Selena, Cardi B, my late sister Daisy.
Is there a charitable cause you support, and why that one? Any cause that elevates, uplifts and encourages women in general. The biggest and best opportunities, open doors, advice, tools and lessons in emotional intelligence were given to me by strong women. My mother, a GED graduate, was a young mother married at 15. After my sister was born, she decided to open her own women's boutique, and over 25 years later has been successfully in business, and growing. She survived breast cancer, the loss of my older sister, who passed tragically at 23, and showed me that emotional strength and hope are far stronger and harder to maintain in measurement than physical strength. Women are vital in shaping the men of this world, so why not start nurturing at its roots for a better one.
What's something about you people would find surprising? I played violin in a professional mariachi group for 10 years.
Who would play you in the movie of your life? Due to Covid slowing down business for a while, I took a swing at acting, and I just booked my first small role in a movie. So maybe I would just play me, but Wilmer Valderrama is the best I can imagine!
In five words or less, what's your advice for living a happy life? Choose your own happiness.