Name: Jorge Montes
Title: Executive chef/owner
Location: Roho Kitchen, 8338 W. State Road 84, Davie; 954-200-2895; RohoKitchen.com
Time at this location: Four years
Style of food prepared: International
Background: Montes recently rebranded from Chef George Catering to reflect the rise in his cooking classes and wine dinners, which have boosted his in-house events to 40 percent of his business. "Roho" refers to the Spanish word for "red," which is "rojo."
"Ever since I was a young boy, I developed a passion for food. I vividly remember eating fresh ceviche in my homeland by the oceanside as a kid," says Montes, who was born in Peru and grew up in Miami.
His most memorable meal is his mother's Peruvian classic aji de gallina, a creamy, spicy chicken stew. She worked long hours as a single parent, so he cooked for his younger brother and sister. His sister, Vanessa Montes, became his partner in Roho.
By 17, he was an apprentice at Two Chefs Restaurant in South Miami, where he eventually specialized in catering and instructing cooking classes. After graduating from The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, he worked with high-profile chefs such as Todd English and in venues such as the W hotel.
Montes is not shy about his goals: to write a book and own a restaurant and a vineyard.
Q: What's the hardest part of being a chef?
A: Staying inspired and passionate. In a world where repetition is important, it can also be your enemy.
Q: What are your two favorite dishes you serve and why?
A: I make a mean Sunday gravy, a tomato sauce loaded with sausage, short rib and meatballs served with rigatoni and parmesan cheese. Another dish is lomo saltado, a traditional Peruvian dish. It's a simple yet flavorful beef stir-fry with French fries and aji amarillo (chili pepper).
Q: What's your typical monthly schedule of events?
A: Typically, eight hands-on cooking classes, two private cooking parties or team-building cooking classes, a food and wine pairing, a SideDoor Supper Club underground dinner, one charity event, 40 corporate lunches and breakfasts, one or two weddings and three to five social catering events, such as bridal showers, graduations, birthdays, etc.
Q: How does your food-and-wine pairing event differ from your SideDoor Supper Club dinner?
A: The pairing, limited to 14 people, is held at Fine Spirits Wine & Liquor in Cooper City, with five wines matched to five tapas for $35. SideDoor is a five-course dinner, plus a welcome cocktail and passed hors d'oeuvres for $55. It is limited to a dozen people and served in Roho's commercial kitchen. Beginning in April, we will hold a second one each month, when our in-house sommelier will pair a wine with each course for $75.
Q: How is your business evolving?
A: We recently launched a website (RohoKitchen.com) where members of our team blog weekly on food-related topics. We've created a fit meal home-delivery program; we're designing a culinary fashion line of food-inspired apparel and accessories; and plan to open a pop-up restaurant.