If you’ve ever dined at the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque, then you probably know the work of Chef Phil Beltran.
Beltran, who retired as the executive chef of the Downtown hotel last year, died April 13. He was at the Hyatt Regency for almost 10 years.
Born and raised in East Los Angeles, Beltran started a lunch food truck after serving five years in the U.S. Navy at the end of the Vietnam War. He then earned a culinary arts degree and started as a cook at the Hyatt Regency Los Angeles in 1989, according to a provided biography.
Beltran worked his way up to executive sous chef at the Hyatt Downtown Los Angeles in 2001, before being promoted to executive chef of Hyatt West Hollywood in 2005.
Linda Durand, administrative assistant at the Hyatt Regency, said Beltran believed in giving back and worked with aspiring chefs.
"He was a great guy," Durand said. "He really mentored those that worked under him. He believed in empowering them."
In addition to good food, Durand said Beltran appreciated mariachis and tequila.
Beltran is survived by Dolores, his wife of 39 years, and a daughter.
"They were a great couple," Durand said. "They were active in their church, and both worked in programs taking care of the needy. They were about giving."
He was instrumental in the Dia de los Muertos Celebration hosted annually at the Hyatt, benefitting the Central New Mexico Community College Culinary Arts scholarship. He was also a two-time Albuquerque Chef Knockout winner. The charity event benefits the Storehouse, the Albuquerque food pantry.
A GoFundMe page has been created to create a scholarship fund in his honor.
Durand said Beltran, who died of a heart attack, was working on taking better care of himself after retiring. She said he had recently lost 20 pounds, was walking every day with his wife and had taken up golfing, something she laughingly said she never thought he’d have the patience for.
The hotel hosted a life celebration for Beltran last week, where sous chefs who had been under his tutelage prepared food they learned from him.