Some of the Greatest Chefs in the World are found in Orange County, California.
What is your first food memory?
Oatmeal porridge. My mom used to feed me oatmeal often when I was a kid. When I eat it nowadays it brings me back to those days.
Did you grow up in a cooking family?
Yes, my mom doesn’t cook many things, but the few things she does cook are really good. My grandmother was an extraordinary cook.
Who has influenced your cooking the most?
All the women in my life (my wife, my mother, my grandmother, my aunts)
Why did you become a chef? I love food and cooking.
What did you want to be when you grew up? A historian.
If I weren’t a chef, I’d be: An accountant.
Who are your favorite chefs?
Too many to name. David Kinch, Daniel Patterson, Edgar Nuñez, Fabián von Hauske, Andoni Luiz Aduriz, Pascal Barbot, Michel Bras.
Which seasonings don’t you respect? Cumin
Which spices are underrated? Pink and green peppercorns.
Are there any culinary trends you like right now?
Peruvian food is having a moment. I particularly like Nikkei cuisine.
Any trends you consider overrated?
Fermentation. It makes sense in certain contexts but now it is everywhere.
What do you think is the next worthwhile food/dining trend? Cooking with cannabis
What food is your guilty pleasure? Hot wings
Is there a food you can’t bring yourself to eat?
Goat cheese. I can’t stand the aftertaste
Your favorite quick meal to prepare at home? Huevos rancheros
Your worst kitchen nightmare?
No dishwasher on a busy night. Drains back-flowing.
Best cooking tip for a novice?
Practice the fundamentals of cooking and master them.
What’s your last meal on earth? Beer
Give us one reason why Orange County’s food scene rocks. Emerging talent.
What’s your favorite type of music to listen to when cooking? Bossa nova
If you could cook for anyone who would it be?
My great grandmothers. I had the chance to meet them but I never had the chance to cook for them.
What’s the strangest request you’ve ever had from a customer?
Well done Alaskan halibut, pureed, strained and chilled. It was for a baby
What’s the best part about being a chef?
Being able to make people happy
What’s the most challenging part of being a chef?
The fad diets and all their trends.
Chef Sergio Ortega
Restaurant: Descanso | Restaurant Website