Chef Emilio Ortega, Group Executive Chef of Gastrodome shares with The Yum List his story and some tales from behind the scenes.
What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
I am currently working as the Group Executive Chef for Gastrodome (La Bodega, The Press Room Bistro and Espressamente Illy). My love for the F and B industry started when I was 11 years old. My father was also working as a chef and owned a few restaurants back in Spain so I used to follow him to work during school holidays and eventually started working for my family restaurants.
Share with us an interesting story from behind the scenes.
I used to work for this well known catering company called Semon in Spain. I got to meet so many celebrities (even the royalties!) in Barcelona and got the opportunities of working for their private events/parties in their beautiful houses.
What's the best/ worst part of your job?
The best part of my job would be doing something I am really passionate about. And the worst part is to be in stressful situations whilst I am doing something that I love.
What's your personal favourite meal?
My favourite meals are Arroz Negro con Calamares y Allioli (Spanish rice cooked in a paella with squid ink and baby squid, topped with garlic mayonnaise and tiger prawns) and Paella Valenciana Mixta (Spanish rice cooked with prawns, chicken, mussels and clams in a paella with saffron, peppers and peas). Both available at La Bodega outlets! As for drinks, I would always prefer The Tapas Wine Collection (Verdejo) for daily drinking and Abadal 3.9 for special occasions.
Tell us a story about one of the dishes you prepare...
I have a soft spot for the Canelloni as it is my father's signature dish that he never fails to prepare during festive season. I prepare them here and am planning to make it available at La Bodega outlets very soon, with products purchased all the way from Spain.
What's one of the craziest things you've seen behind the scenes?
The craziest moments would be during events, where about 300 or more guests reach the venue at the same time. Nothing else in the world would matter at this point of time. The most important thing is to focus and get the job done by making sure top quality food will be provided on time.
The perfect day off would be...
To be able to spend the day with my girlfriend. She is also working as a chef (in Shanghai), so it is very hard for us to spend our times together.
A life in the day of a chef is...
Meetings, planning, designing, creating new recipes for the restaurants, and to make sure my chefs are doing well at the outlets.
What do you do for fun?
For now, I like to spend my holidays by exploring Asia. It is a fantastic place and I absolutely love getting to know this continent.
What's something you'd like guests to know about the cuisine prepared at The Press Room Bistro?
The Press Room Bistro is conceptualized as a nice and casual European Bistro serving traditional European flavours especially from the Josper oven. We try to find the best European products in town such as Bacalao, Spanish Octopus, Cheese, Sourdough Breads etc.
How do you select your ingredients and why?
I am very particular about the quality and flavours for the food. I only want the best for my kitchens.
What's your view on the KL restaurant scene?
After spending two years in KL, I think the industry is really developing and the locals are starting to be more open to try new dishes. The local food scene is wonderful too – I absolutely love Asian flavours!
What can guests look forward to in the upcoming months?
We have new and exciting products for The Press Room Bistro; we have the new section on our Dinner menu called Josper Creations – which I recommend our customers to explore, Spanish Octopus and I will be introducing Bacalao cooked in the Josper oven very soon.