Mexican-born chef shapes Nicaraguan cuisine, community

Tue Jul 9, 2013 3:36pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Chef Cupertino Ortiz enjoys a challenge.

Earlier this year when he took over as executive chef at Mukul, the first luxury beach resort in Nicaragua, he found neither an identifiable cuisine nor a cohesive menu, and the nearest city to buy provisions was two hours away.

"You had to be very organized," said Ortiz, who began by forging relationships with nearby farms and fisheries and recruiting local kitchen help.

He also started applying Mediterranean techniques to traditional Nicaraguan flavors.

Born in Acapulco, Mexico, Ortiz honed his skills at restaurants and resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean, most recently as executive chef at Sugar Beach resort on the island of St. Lucia.

On a recent visit to New York City, Ortiz, 35, spoke to Reuters about training in kitchens rather than culinary school and reinventing Nicaraguan comfort food for a luxury resort.

Q: How did you decide to become a chef?

A: Since I was a child I wanted to be a chef. I was always interested in flavors and sauces and I loved my mother's cooking.   Continued...

Chef Cupertino Ortiz is pictured at Mukul resort in Nicaragua, in this handout photo taken in May 2013, courtesy of Elena de Sojo. Reuters