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Two minutes with Martha Ortiz, Ella Canta

Published 22 January 2020

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This week we talk to Martha Ortiz, the restaurateur and chef behind Ella Canta at the InterContinental London Park Lane hotel. She shares how she takes inspiration for her cooking from art, and why she loves Mexican hospitality.

When did you realise you wanted to work in hospitality? 

It was in my childhood that I discovered my love for gastronomy and all things related to it. I would watch my mother in the kitchen – she is a brilliant cook and always had the ability to create beauty though food, taking great pleasure in it, creating dishes inspired from all kinds of experiences – full of textures, scents, colours and flavours. Despite understanding from a young age that this was what I was interested in, I went on to study political sciences and during my university years I found that my true vocation was to belong in the restaurant business. My masters’ thesis was based on Mexican gastronomy and the ways different Mexican cultures react with food. 

Where and how did you get your start? 

I began my professional career in a food and beverage consultancy agency called Gastronova that offered advice to hospitality businesses.  This agency developed some of the most successful and widely recognized concepts across Mexico. From this, I then opened my own restaurant, Aguila y Sol, in Mexico City which was forced to close after a couple of years. After a while the opportunity for Dulce Patria arose, followed by Ella Canta in London at the InterContinental London Park Lane. I have also recently opened my second restaurant in Mexico City, Filigrana. 

Sum up your current work life in one sentence. 

My current work life is a constant strive to show beauty in all the creations in each of my restaurants. 

Who has been really influential on your career and why? 

I always had a profound admiration for my former husband the painter Roberto Cortázar who devoted many hours to each of his paintings. He encouraged total dedication, and emphasized the importance of striving for perfection. He would say that we were both aiming to create masterpieces through each of our professional expressions or mediums. 

What’s next for you? 

 I am going to open a restaurant in Tuch de Luna, Quintana Roo, Mexico, at the end of 2020. 

What’s your one piece of advice to someone starting out? 

My advice is to always build on your professional life with discipline and consistency.

Where did you last have a great meal? 

Last night I had an extraordinary bean soup at Filigrana, my new restaurant in Mexico City. I have a very talented team there.

Are there any openings you are looking forward to? 

 Yes – I am very much looking forward to my next venture Tuch de Luna in Xcaret, Quintana Roo. It will be different to Ella Canta in London and my restaurants in Mexico City.

Where is the most exciting city for hospitality (aside from London)? 

I think Mexico City is very exciting today – it is vibrant and interesting, and constantly developing. The hospitality sector, amongst others, is growing consistently. It is my favourite city in the world – full of colours, flavours, and such a depth of historical background. It is home to some of the very best restaurants in the world and I believe that the number will only grow! 

Who would you identify as a rising star? 

 There is a very talented generation of Young chefs in Mexico. I love the work of Adriana Cavita and Gabriela Ruiz in particular, pioneering female talent.

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