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Ruben Ortega

Executive Pastry Chef

James Beard Award-nominated Pastry Chef Ruben Ortega was raised in Mexico City and Puebla, Mexico, and learned his love of cooking and baking from his aunt, who taught him how to knead dough by hand in a hollow tree trunk. At age 17, Ruben left Mexico for the United States, landing in California and eventually joined his older brother Hugo in Texas. A 1991 graduate of the Culinary Arts Program at Houston Community College, Ruben won first-place honors in 1993 at the Texas Culinary Federation’s statewide contest. He spent two-and-a-half years at award-winning Houston restaurants Américas and Churrascos as pastry cook before becoming a pastry chef at Aries restaurant. He was named Pastry Chef of the Year at 2019 Tastemaker Awards hosted by Culturemap, and Pastry Chef of the Year at the 2003 Houston Culinary Awards. He has worked with brother Hugo and sister-in-law Tracy on two cookbooks – Hugo Ortega’s Street Food of Mexico (2012) and Backstreet Kitchen: Seasonal Recipes from Our Neighborhood Cafe (2013) – and is known for his amazing, made-from-scratch Mexican chocolate and creative and whimsical desserts. Ruben is a semifinalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef for the 2022 James Beard Foundation Awards.