Hugo Ortega is executive chef of four of Houston’s top restaurants – Hugo’s, Caracol, Backstreet Cafe and Xochi, which he owns with wife Tracy Vaught under the umbrella of H Town Restaurant Group. Ortega received the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southwest at the prestigious James Beard Foundation Awards in May 2017 (he was a six-time consecutive finalist for the award 2012-2017).
He was raised in Mexico City and Puebla, Mexico, and learned his love of cooking from his mother and grandmother, a revered mole maker. At age 17, he left Mexico for Houston, where he began his career in the restaurant industry as a dishwasher and busboy at Backstreet Cafe before graduating from the Culinary Arts Program at Houston Community College and later becoming its executive chef.
Ortega is author of two cookbooks, Hugo Ortega’s Street Food of Mexico (2012) and Backstreet Kitchen: Seasonal Recipes from Our Neighborhood Café (2013). Ortega and Vaught are also partners in Origen restaurant in Oaxaca, Mexico, and recently opened Hugo’s Cocina, a fast-casual version of Hugo’s, in Terminal D of Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH).
©2013 - 2017 Savannah Food & Wine Festival
November 6-12, 2017
The Savannah Food & Wine Festival is presented by the Tourism Leadership Council, a 501-(c) 6 organization, with proceeds benefiting the TLC Scholarship Fund, with educational opportunities for hospitality program students in colleges and universities in the Coastal Empire and many local charitable organizations.