SWA Community.

Southwest Airlines started as a small business and is proud of its continued commitment to champion entrepreneurs. Knowing our humble beginnings, we recognize the importance of supporting small businesses in the communities we serve. In addition to actively engaging with chambers of commerce in the cities we serve, our Supplier Diversity program is dedicated to supporting disadvantaged, small, minority-owned, and women-owned businesses.

This month, I share with you an inspiring story of how Luis “Luisteen” Gonzalez’s perseverance, preparation, and view on life has helped him overcome obstacles. He has sought to be the best in his class by traveling the world and learning best practices. His generosity in giving back has always been at the forefront and has supported the nonprofit community.

Just as we at Southwest Airlines know the challenges of starting small, it is that dedication that has allowed entrepreneurs like Luisteen let their dreams take flight.

Many of us have a vision of success for our futures, but the arduous journey often includes many hurdles before achieving our dreams. Chef Luis “Luisteen” Gonzalez has faced many of those challenges, but worked to overcome them all to become the renowned chef he is today. His secret to overcoming these difficulties? “An optimistic attitude, to show humility when mistakes are made, and to never give up,” shares Luisteen.

Luis Gonzalez was born and raised in Mexico City on his grandmother’s farm where his passion for traditional Mexican cuisine blossomed. Learning about the art of cooking and the rich history of these dishes ignited a passion. In addition to learning cooking from his grandmother, he sought out local bakers and chefs for their advice. Luis pursued as many opportunities as possible to improve his skills and understanding of the hospitality and culinary industries from formally studying gastronomy and hospitality to professional residencies at hotels and restaurants throughout Mexico. Throughout his travels, he learned unique regional dishes that he added his own flare to.

Armed with his skills, Luisteen launched his own catering company and became a force to reckon with on the Los Angeles food scene. After years of building a name for himself, a new opportunity awaited him in San Diego allowing him to expand from catering to his very own restaurant, Puesto, with locations in La Jolla and San Diego. Known for its unique offerings grounded in traditional Mexican cuisine, it is no wonder Chef Luisteen has found such a great reception.

Having achieved so many of his own dreams, Mr. Gonzalez has now made it a priority to give back to others. Some of his philanthropic efforts include supporting MAAC Project, Les Dames d’Escoffier International Mexico City, L.A., and Orange County Chapters, as well as Fundación Castro Limón. While he has seen a great deal of success thus far, Luis sees continued growth over the next year including two more Puesto locations, business ventures throughout Europe, and working on his first book. Education also remains at the forefront as he will be filming online cooking classes for others to learn at home! As continues to chase his dreams he leaves us with words of wisdom, “If you give up then all the effort you made the day before will be for nothing.”