The AAA Four Diamond InterContinental Houston – Medical Center has appointed Harol Ortiz to the role of Executive Chef. In this capacity, the hospitality veteran brings his international culinary flair to the hotel’s acclaimed Safina all-day, modern Mediterranean eatery and cosmopolitan craft cocktail destination, The Naturalist Café & Lounge Bar, in addition to functions utilizing the property’s 18,000 square feet of stylish, state-of-the-art meeting and event space.
Located at the western gateway to the Texas Medical Center, steps from Hermann Park and Rice University, as well as within close proximity to attractions including NRG Stadium, Rice Village, and the Museum District, the 354-room luxury hotel was recently recognized by the InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) for the company’s highest rated customer service in North America and is currently ranked among the top three hotels for customer service in Houston by TripAdvisor.
“Chef Ortiz has the expertise, creativity, and skill to execute the premier culinary experience guests have come to expect from the InterContinental Houston – Medical Center,” says Doug Kelly, the hotel’s Director of Sales & Marketing. “His experience at some of the best hotels on the IHG roster is proving this to be a seamless transition, and we we’re especially excited to see him execute his vision for Safina, which has become a dining destination unto itself.”
Bringing his own touch to the “land meets sea” focus at Safina, Ortiz is in the process of launching a steak menu to pair with the hotel’s extensive wine list. He will also bring Poached Pear Salad with Cambozola cheese and organic mixed greens to the summer menu along with Bone-In Short Ribs with potato pave, green bean and carrot bundle, and a merlot demi-glace. He will also bring in seafood dishes such as Grilled Octopus with fennel roasted potatoes, and yellow Romanesco sauce and Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass with roasted corn puree and green beans.
A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Ortiz’s experience spans from Washington, D.C. to Miami, where he was a two-time Greater Miami and The Beaches Hotel Association Inn Key Awards Best Chef winner. Prior to joining the InterContinental Houston – Medical Center, Ortiz was the Executive Chef of Hotel Colonnade Coral Gables, an Autograph Collection property in the Miami area, where he was also the chef and proprietor of La Churuata, a well-regarded Latin BBQ restaurant with a special focus on Venezuelan specialties. Before that, he served as the Executive Chef of the famed InterContinental the Willard Washington D.C.
Ortiz began his culinary career in Miami as a line cook at Blue Café and later worked at The Setai Miami Beach, where his exposure to Asian, Indian, and French techniques sparked his interest in culinary school. He began his studies at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Miami, earning his associate degree in culinary arts, and then his bachelor’s degree in food and beverage from San Ignacio University. Ortiz has also served as Sous Chef at Hotel Victor South Beach and Executive Sous Chef at Miami’s Shiraz Catering.
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