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Hugo Ortega
Food & Wine / Cookbook

Hugo Ortega was born in Mexico City, the oldest of eight children, and grew up in its worst slums. Like many in his homeland, he began working at a very young age to help support his family. He sold homemade dulce de leche (caramel) at the mercado, herded goats on the mountainside, and sold fresh fruit juices and food prepared by his aunt in the busy streets of Mexico City. At age 17, Ortega left Mexico determined to make a better life for himself in Houston. He began work as a dishwasher and busboy to learn the fundamentals of the restaurant business and find contacts to help him improve his English.