A first generation American born to Portuguese parents, George earned his degree at the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, NY in 1992. Working under his mentor, chef David Bouley, at the original Bouley, George developed his skill cooking vegetables and meat as garde manger, entremetier and poissonier. He also took the opportunity to continue his education during two month-long work/study stays with Alain Passard at Arpege in Paris, France, which reinforced the importance of quality of ingredients, as well as simplicity in preparation.

After Bouley closed in 1996, George moved on to Le Zoo, a small French bistro in Greenwich Village, in his first role as executive chef. The job afforded him an opportunity to start developing his own cooking style and acquire management skills. It was also his first taste of running a kitchen and creating inventive yet budget-conscious dishes.

Two years later, George returned to fine dining as executive sous chef at the three-star Lespinasse in Washington D.C. under Sandro Gamba. It was a dream position, allowing him to work with the best available ingredients to create the restaurant's signature “French luxe cuisine.” To further his education, George staged at both Le Moulin de Mougins under the legendary Roger Vergé and at La Bastide de Moustiers under Alain Ducasse during his year and a half at Lespinasse. Working at La Bastide was an especially important experience, with the restaurant's daily-changing menu relying on the adjacent garden for all vegetables and herbs. George then returned to New York to help a colleague, his friend and fellow Bouley alumnus Kurt Gutenbrunner open his Austrian restaurant Wallsé.

George further explored the heritage and contemporary culinary trends of the Iberian Peninsula during a stage at the three -Michelin star Restaurant Martin Berasategui in San Sebastian, Spain, with Martin Berasategui, the highly acclaimed Basque chef, known for nurturing younger cooks and helping them develop their skills. He then joined Tocqueville as Chef de cuisine where he implemented the seasonal bounty of the nearby greenmarket along with a touch of his personal style into the menu. After three and a half years running the kitchen, during which the Tocqueville Zagat rating went up to 26 points out of 30 for food and two stars in The New York Times, Chef Mendes is now pursuing his own restaurant venture.