Ashton Gustafson | Let The Music Play
Make music with your life, relationships, and career.
The Chef Sessions with Hugo Ortega
November 17, 2017 06:37 PM PST
Hugo Ortega is executive chef/co-owner of four of Houston’s top restaurants – Backstreet Cafe, Hugo’s, Caracol and Xochi, and winner of Best Chef: Southwest at the prestigious 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards. (He was a finalist for the award for six consecutive years, 2012- 2017.) Ortega has been recognized locally, nationally and globally for his inspirational story and his passion for sharing traditional Mexican cooking and culture.
Ortega’s American Dream story started at Backstreet Cafe, a neighborhood bistro started by Tracy Vaught in 1983. He began his career in the restaurant business first as dishwasher and busboy and later as a line cook before graduating from culinary school and later becoming Backstreet’s executive chef. He and Vaught married, and together, they have created an award-winning Houston restaurant family that also includes Hugo’s and Caracol.
Ortega was born in Mexico City, the oldest of a family of eight children. At 15, he began working at one of several Procter & Gamble factories in Mexico to help support his family. In 1984, he immigrated to Houston with no contacts or job leads, but determined to make a life for himself in America. Slowly, step-by-step, Ortega began to set down roots in the bustling oil capitol. He shared an apartment with several friends, and followed up on leads for jobs in nearby restaurants. He was happy to find his first job, as a dishwasher, at a popular bar and nightclub. While the pay was meager, Ortega grabbed at the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of the restaurant business and find contacts to help him improve his English.
Later, Ortega cleaned the floors in office buildings to supplement his income. With an unexpected turn of bad luck, his roommates moved to California and he lost both of his jobs. He had no income and no place to live. A friend asked Hugo if he wanted to wash dishes and Hugo jumped at the chance. The friend took Hugo to Backstreet Cafe, and this is where the turning point of his life happened.
Ortega is passionate about sharing the traditional foods and culture of his native Mexico with diners. In 2002, he opened the critically acclaimed Hugo’s, which brought Authentic Regional Mexican Cuisine to the forefront of dining. In 2013, the Ortega and Vaught opened their third concept, Caracol, a Mexican coastal kitchen highlighting the richness of seafood found along Mexico’s 16 coastal states; and in January 2017 they opened Xochi, which celebrates the flavors of Oaxaca, Mexico, in the new Marriot Marquis Houston Downtown.The Chef Sessions with Shota Nakajima
November 10, 2017 10:20 AM PST
Chef Shota began his culinary journey at the age of sixteen, working for a well-acclaimed sushi restaurant in his hometown of Seattle, WA. At the age of eighteen, Nakajima moved to Osaka, Japan to learn about the art of Japanese cuisine. In Japan, Nakajima had the opportunity to work for Michelin Star rated Chef Yasuhiko Sakamoto. As one would expect, this experience changed Chef Shota’s perspective on cooking.
November 03, 2017 11:07 AM PDT
America’s in the midst of a bread renaissance – just ask Publican Quality Bread’s Head Baker, Greg Wade. Growing up outside Milwaukee, Greg was raised baking with his mother and grandmother, but it wasn’t until years later that he discovered his passion for whole grains, long fermentation and all the other things he speaks effortlessly about under the humble guise of “nerding out.”
After enrolling in The Illinois Institute of Art's Culinary Program, Greg began to notice a void in the Chicago dining scene – excellent restaurants had the desire to serve quality breads made from hydrated doughs and whole grains, but they were hard-pressed to find the space and expertise necessary to bake in their already-bustling kitchens. From that epiphany, Greg found his first home as a baker at Wicker Park’s Taxim, where he specialized in breads and pastries. As his knowledge continued to grow, Greg joined the opening team at Girl & the Goat in 2010. Wade excelled under Chef Stephanie Izard’s tutelage, and in 2013, he moved to Little Goat to oversee bread baking at Girl & the Goat, Little Goat and Little Goat French Market.
Now at the helm of Publican Quality Bread, Greg works hand in hand with Chefs de Cuisine, farmers and retail owners to develop breads to fit restaurant menus and storefronts within and outside the One Off family. Since joining our team in 2014, Greg has grown Publican Quality Bread from a seedling operation within the kitchen of sister restaurant Publican Quality Meats, to a full-fledged wholesale wing. In 2017, Greg’s passion and skills were recognized with a James Beard finalist nomination for Outstanding Baker, alongside people he’s admired greatly throughout the course of his career.
As Publican Quality Bread’s Head Baker, Greg oversees the bread program for all of One Off Hospitality Group, with a focus on whole grains and fermentation. Apart from his day-to-day leadership, Greg is an active member of the local, regional and national farming communities – every July, you can find him leading a two-day Bread Camp along with Marty and Will Travis at Spence Farm in Fairbury, IL. Online, you can witness his technique and commitment to ethical, quality ingredients in the newly released documentary, Sustainable.
Publican Bread Co. -https://www.publicanqualitybread.com/greg-wade/
Sustainable Documentary on Netflix - https://www.netflix.com/title/80134814The Chef Sessions with Dean Fearing
October 27, 2017 02:01 PM PDT
Creator of Fearing’s Restaurant and author of The Texas Food Bible, Chef Dean Fearing is known as a “Father of Southwestern Cuisine” and has spent his life cooking for people who love good food.
After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America and following 20-plus years at The Mansion on Turtle Creek, Dean opened his own Fearing’s Restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas in 2007. Since then, he and his popular menu favorites have been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, Newsweek, Food and Wine, Southern Living, Forbes, Fox News, Bon Appétit, Garden & Gun, Robb Report, The Food Network, Guitar Aficionado and more. He was recently recognized as a “Pioneer of American Cuisine” by The Culinary Institute of America, and was also presented with the Silver Spoon Award for sterling performance by Food Arts.
Dean is a restaurateur who likes to spend as much time as possible at his restaurant. Most days, he can be spotted in Fearing’s wearing a signature crisp white chef’s coat with colorful boot embroidery, blue jeans and brightly-hued, custom-tooled Lucchese cowboy boots. When not in the kitchen, he is often found strumming his vintage Fender Telecaster guitar, one of a collection of several dozen guitars and amps, playing songs from the album created by his all-chef alternative country group, The Barbwires, or by his Dallas-based Lost Coyote Band. He is also known to spend his spare time searching the countryside for Texas culinary inspiration. The state’s rich variety of peppers, dried chilies, jicama, cilantro, tomatillos, fruits and vegetables, cheeses, Gulf seafood and Hill Country wild game play a major role in Dean’s ever-changing cuisine.The Chef Sessions with Michael Tusk
October 20, 2017 01:09 PM PDT
Michael Tusk is the Chef and Owner, along with his wife Lindsay, of two of San Francisco’s most critically acclaimed restaurants, Quince and Cotogna. His approach to Italian and French regional cuisine is refined and modern, taking inspiration from the seasonal bounty of Northern California and his close relationships with local purveyors.
A native of New Jersey, Tusk graduated from Tulane University with a degree in Art History and attended the Culinary Institute of America
Tusk returned to the United States in 1988 and settled in the San Francisco Bay Area where he contributed to the success of some of the
The James Beard Foundation has recognized Tusk’s contributions to the industry and named him “Best Chef: Pacific”. Under Tusk's helm, Quince has also been awarded four stars by the San Francisco Chronicle, three stars from the Michelin Guide and is a distinguished member of Relais & Châteaux.
Quince - http://www.quincerestaurant.com/
Cotogna - http://cotognasf.com/
Relais & Châteaux -https://www.relaischateaux.com/us/chef/michael-tuskThe Chef Sessions with Tyson Cole
October 13, 2017 10:13 AM PDT
Tyson co-founded Uchi in 2003 as the restaurant’s Executive Chef. Before Uchi, he was a passionate student of the Japanese sushi tradition, training for more than 10 years in a variety of roles from dishwasher to head sushi chef in Tokyo, New York, and Austin, under two different sushi masters. Formative years were spent at Musashino, one of Austin’s top sushi restaurants, where he completed an intensive traditional apprenticeship under owner Takehiko Fuse. The two spent time in Japan, where Tyson experienced the food and gained technical skill. Fuse challenged him to learn the Japanese language, which helped Tyson learn more about the cuisine. He later trained at Bond Street, one of the busiest sushi restaurants in New York City. After Uchi opened in 2003, Tyson was recognized as one of Food and Wine Magazine’s Best New Chefs of 2005. In 2010, he opened Uchiko and in 2011, he celebrated the release of the Uchi Cookbook. Later that year, Tyson also received a James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southwest.Autumn is here. Shall we change it up a bit?
October 13, 2017 07:28 AM PDT
Introduction to a new series of Let The Music Play Podcast episodes.The Sound(s) of Being Human with Ryan O'neal (Sleeping At Last)
October 06, 2017 07:26 AM PDT
Sleeping At Last is the moniker of Chicago-based singer-songwriter, producer and composer, Ryan O’Neal.
Sleeping At Last can be heard frequently on popular TV Shows and Films such as The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, The Fault In Our Stars – Trailer, Grey’s Anatomy, So You Think You Can Dance, Criminal Minds, Bones, The Vampire Diaries, J.J. Abrams & Alfonso Cuaron’s Believe and many more.
Sleeping At Last http://www.sleepingatlast.com/
The Sacred Enneagram by Chris Heuertz https://gravitycenter.com/sacredenneagram/
What is the Enneagram? https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/Mending the Divides with Jer Swigart
September 22, 2017 09:41 AM PDT
Jer Swigart is a social innovator, an organizer, a professor, and the cofounding director of The Global Immersion Project, a peacemaking training organization that forms, equips, and mobilizes individuals and communities to enter any kind of conflict to heal rather than to win. He was the founder and lead pastor of The Open Door Community, a courageous collective of people pursuing God’s dream for the San Francisco Bay area, and he is a contributing author to a number of books that focus on theology, leadership, justice, and reconciliation.
A modern-day peacemaker, Jer has found himself contending for restoration in beautifully bizarre corners of our global village. Whether in the tribes of northern Pakistan, the slums of India, the red-light districts of Southeast Asia, the violence of Israel and Palestine, or the racial injustice of his own neighborhood, Jer loves people in a way that disarms violence and dismantles divides. His engagement within national and international conflicts has formed him into a guide for the church as she seeks to leverage her influence as an instrument of peace in our world.
A sought-after speaker, Jer frequently teaches in the areas of peacemaking and conflict transformation, faith and culture, neighbor and enemy love, spiritual formation, culture creating, and innovative leadership. He completed his undergrad at The University of Northwestern-St. Paul and has an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary, where he received the prestigious David Allen Hubbard Award. He currently resides with his family in Bend, Oregon.
Linkg to Mending the Divides - https://www.amazon.com/Mending-Divides-Creative-Conflicted-World/dp/0830844848Unseen with Sara Hagerty
September 15, 2017 07:05 PM PDT
What if the mundane is where the enchantment of our days resides? This one of the questions Sara Hagerty journeys into with her latest work Unseen: The Gift of Being Hidden in a World that loves to be Noticed.
Let The Music Play is a podcast hosted by Ashton Gustafson. He speaks and writes about the art of being human, finding beauty in the hidden places, and making music with your life, relationships, and career.
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