What a great interview with Executive Chef Hugo Ortega @chef_hugo65 published by @thetexasmedicalcenter !
HUGO ORTEGA is the executive chef and co-owner of some of Houston’s most acclaimed restaurants, but the James Beard Award winner wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. The eldest of eight children, Ortega was raised in Mexico and moved to Houston in 1984, determined to find employment. He started as a dishwasher and later as a busboy and line cook at Backstreet Cafe, working under owner Tracy Vaught, whom he later married. The two have since built a culinary dynasty in Houston, opening Hugo’s, Caracol and Xochi.
Q | Who is your idol?
A | My grandmother. I was born in Mexico City, and when I was six, I went to live with her in the mountains in Oaxaca. I was a city boy always surrounded by people, and then when I went to live with her, it was just me and her by ourselves on the top of a mountain, with nobody around. So, I was afraid in the beginning. But she took me by the hand and she showed me how to work the land. In the summer, we harvested watermelons and cucumbers and tomatoes. We lived to eat, literally. We would make a live fire every day by collecting wood and by being exposed to nature, and she showed me how to respect the animals and the food and the people who are surrounding you. She showed me how to cook. That was really, really wonderful.
To read the full interview: www.tmc.edu/news/2019/08/executive-chef-hugo-ortego-talks-mexican-cuisine-buying-local-and-his-gratitude-to-the-city-of-houston/