Boilers of Dining – Rudy Ortiz

Where are you from Rudy?

I’m from a Northern Mexico City called Zacatecas.

Did you go to Culinary school? 

No, but I’m thinking of going next year in January. I got my experience training to be a chef by working in several restaurants in California.

What made you interested in becoming a chef?

When I was younger I use to cook for my siblings a lot and they always said I was a good cook. Then, I got my first job as a dishwasher at a French restaurant opened by Joe Miller when I was 17. I eventually asked to learn more about culinary techniques and over the course of 3 to 4 years I worked up from the pantry to becoming a cook. Joe really inspired me by how much he took pride in making his food and how he served his dishes.

What made you decide to come work at Purdue? 

I was already working at a Pub in Lafayette when I heard about The Sagamore and became interested. I then got the opportunity to create my own menu, which It’s being served now! The Sagamore let me try out my ideas and be creative. It also gave me the opportunity to be at a good school, so my kids could come here.

Can you take us through your process of creating a full menu?

I had some ideas already so I had a tasting with people I invited people to see what dishes they liked and what they didn’t so I could make changes. A lot of recipe development followed to make sure everything was in order. This was my first time creating a whole menu so it took me several months before I released it.

How was the first day of your menu being served?

I felt very accomplished and happy, not nervous at all. This release made me inspired about opening my own place in the future. I feel very proud of how my experience with other chefs has built up to this moment. The feedback was amazing too! So many people enjoyed my food that after ordering one dish they got another!

Man, we can’t wait to try out your creations either! Now, what does it mean to be a Culinary Supervisor?

I supervise the student cooks and make sure they do well in terms of quality and cleanliness. I want to make them take pride of what they do so when patrons come, they want to come back from the way we treat them, the quality of the food we serve and the good environment we create. I also prep everything in the morning to make sure everything is ready for the day. Sometimes I help serve customers if it gets too busy, I like it though since I get to interact with the customers I’m serving. 

Sounds like you’re a jack of all trades! Is the Sagamore serving anything special for Thanksgiving?

This week we’re going to serve items that are in theme such as cranberry sauce with turkey and other seasonal dishes to get patrons ready for Thanksgiving.

Outside the Thanksgiving menu, what is your favorite item to make? 

The pistachio-crusted tuna served with saffron sauce, sauteed spinach, shiitake mushrooms and more. It’s a really intricate dish and I enjoy putting it all together.

What is your favorite item to eat?

Seafood is my favorite so I usually make my own spin on current recipes, such as adding shrimp to the tuna dish .

You should create a secret menu and add that! What would you recommend for someone to try if they have not visited the Sagamore before?

Honestly anything seafood on the menu such as shrimp scampi, our tuna or salmon. If not seafood, then our Chicken Cordon Bleu with honey sauce. Our zucchini noodles are great as well if you’re looking for a vegetarian option.  

All of those sound absolutely divine! When you’re not working, what do you like to do?

I like planting vegetables and tending to my own garden. I have peppers, onion, tomatoes. I also have fruit trees, apples, and grapes. Besides gardening, I like to draw and read books based on true stories.  

Sounds fun! Do you still cook a lot at home?

Yes I do for my family and friends. Sometimes I even cater to events such as birthdays, weddings, and proposals!

You must be the life of the party! Alright last question, what advice would you give to our students and staff or aspiring chefs in general?

If you like cooking, just practice and go to school! Cooking is an art too, its not about just putting something on a plate, you have to plate it correctly and make it look good. People eat with their eyes first so know how to arrange foods and know how to cook food well. Cooking may not be for everyone but if you want a career in cooking, go for it! 

Thanks for that advice! We hope you enjoyed this interview as much as we did Rudy!

Happy Monday Boilermakers! Make sure to keep your chin up and try out The Sagamore for some delicious food made by Rudy before you head home for Thanksgiving.


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