Flash-grilled: Ana Ortiz

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Credit: Ed Schofield
Credit: Ed Schofield

Related tags: Chef

The Galapagos-born chef director at the newly-launched The Mess restaurant at Messums Wiltshire on the delights of fritada, her earliest food memory, and the importance of a work life balance.

What was your first industry job?
Working as a barista in an independent coffee shop.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
It would have to be interior design.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
Rosio Sanchez from Hija de Sanchez Taqueria, I love her style, super original and authentic.

Pet hate in the kitchen?
‘Oui chef’...

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
‘I love Indian food’, thinking I was Indian!

Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence…
Authentic South American cooking, inspired by the Andean region.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
Someone once complained that I had used too many spices.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
Tortilla press for empanada making.

What do you consider your signature dish?
Fritada – it’s a typical Ecuadorian dish made with pork and it’s my ultimate taste of home. Growing up in the Galapagos it’s a dish we would have all the time and I continue to make regularly for my family at home.

À la carte or tasting menu?
Definitely à la carte.

Favourite fast food joint?
Shawarma from Ranoush on Edgeware Road in London – they are the best.

MasterChef or Great British Menu?
MasterChef.

Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
Tweezers! Not my style at all.

What’s your earliest food memory?
My grandad killing a pig on my grandmother’s birthday. We then had a massive party over the following days eating different dishes using the whole pig.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Fritada!

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Ensure a work life balance; it’s something I’ve always felt strongly about upholding.

Related topics: People, Profiles, Chef

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