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Veteran chef boasting global chops takes over Medical Center hotel and restaurant

Veteran chef with global chops takes over Med Center hotel/restaurant

Harol Ortiz
Harol Ortiz bring considerable expertise to Houston. Photo courtesy of InterContinental Houston – Medical Center
Safina interior
Safina is a Med Center gem. Courtesy of Safina
Harol Ortiz
Safina interior

A new face will lead the culinary direction at the InterContinental Houston – Medical Center.

Harol Ortiz, a native of Venezuela with a career that spans the globe, will head the hotel's culinary program. That includes menus for Safina's, the InterContinental's modern Mediterranean eatery, its cosmopolitan craft cocktail space, The Naturalist Café & Lounge Bar, along with overseeing culinary aspects of the hotel's events, and functions.

“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,” said Doug Kelly, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing in a release announcing Ortiz's appointment. “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.”

Prior to this move, Ortiz was the executive chef of Hotel Colonnade Coral Gables, an Autograph Collection property in the Miami area. He was also the chef and proprietor of La Churuata, a Latin barbecue restaurant with an emphasis on Venezuelan specialties.

He's a two-time Greater Miami and The Beaches Hotel Association Inn Key Awards Best Chef winner. He also served as executive chef of the InterContinental the Willard – Washington D.C.

Ortiz began his culinary career in Miami, where he learned about Asian, Indian, and French cooking techniques. That spurred a desire to go to culinary school, and he enrolled in Miami's  Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. He went on to earn a bachelor's degree in food and beverage from San Ignacio University.

Diners should expect Ortiz to bring a "land meets sea" sensibility to the InterContinental, according to the hotel's press release. He is currently working on a steak menu that's designed to showcase and augment the InterContinental's extensive wine program.

His summer menu will include a poached pear salad with Cambozola cheese and organic mixed greens and bone-in short ribs with potato pave, green bean and carrot bundle, and a merlot demi-glace.

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 will also be on the menu.

That sounds like the perfect recipe for elevated Med Center dining.