For weeks now there has been whispers, rumblings and, dare I say, even some hubbub surrounding changes at the Justamere Cafe and Bistro. Weekly Friday night buffets featuring cuisine from around the world… a prime rib special every Saturday night… new desserts and menu items that I can’t even pronounce… what in the name of coconut cream pie and quesadilla’s is going on down there?!
Well, you can finally quit your head scratching and hubbubbing, because I’m here to answer your most burning questions and to introduce you to the new Chef in town, Daniel Ortiz. We’re beyond proud to call him ours.
First, some back ground – Born in Malaga Spain, “the most beautiful place in the world“, Daniel always knew that he wanted to work in a kitchen one day. While most of us were dreaming of a day when we’d be allowed to wear blue eye shadow and walk downtown by ourselves, or wishing we were as cool as DJ from full house (or was that just me?), Daniel began working in his father’s restaurant. At 14 he started peeling potatoes and washing dishes, working his way up the ranks. Over the next 20 years he worked at numerous restaurants and in cities that I can’t pronounce. Solandalosi… Cerrado Del Abuila… Mijas…. Spanish words. He spent years and years at award winning restaurants, ranked as the best in the world, learning and working as head chef. By 34 he found himself in Alberta working in a sports restaurant in order to fulfill a work permit and eventually obtain Canadian citizenship. An opportunity last year brought him to Antigonish and we’re so thankful that it did, and although he’s only been working at the Justamere for six weeks, it’s clear that the wealth of knowledge he has brought with him will be a welcome addition to our little town.
Now, the fun stuff! Your most burning questions will be answered and you can learn a little bit more about the mysterious Chef Ortiz.
** For best results we recommend you read his answers with a passionate Spanish accent**
Favourite thing about working at the Justamere?
The potential. There is a lot of opportunity here with the kitchen, restaurant and banquet rooms.
Favourite thing about Antigonish?
The weather, I love when I get stuck in the snow… (at this moment, my mind forgot what sarcasm was and I thought he was insane… but pressed on) No, no.. the beautiful town – a nice community that is similar to where I was born. It’s a town that has everything you want – the beach or mountains. I grew up near the beach and it’s important for me to live near one. It alleviates my stress.
Favourite TV Show?
The Sopranos or Breaking Bad
Dreams by the Cranberries
Coke, coffee, beer, whiskey and ginger ale (separately though, not all mixed together. Gross)
Least Favourite Food?
Cans of Tuna (he’s very passionate about this one. I on the other hand, used the opportunity to talk about an amazing tuna sandwich I recently had. Seriously, so good. His loss)
Who would play you in a movie?
Johnny Depp, because he can be crazy and funny.
People coming to work late, or when people try to tell you about something that they know nothing about. I hate this kind of “expert”.
What are your goals for the Justamere?
I want all of the banquet rooms full – with weddings and events. And I’d like to have a little shop in the restaurant where you can buy products we make here – like salad dressings and pastries. I want to use these opportunities to be the best restaurant in town.
A lot of these questions were silly, and we are aware that they will have no influence on where you decide to eat a meal… but interwoven with the silliness is the message we’re trying to convey – there is opportunity here for us and for you. There is the opportunity for the Justamere to grow, and get better… for us to introduce you to new flavours and improve old classics, there’s opportunities for weddings, shows and parties, and there are new ambitions that pour from our kitchen everyday. There is the opportunity to put ourselves out there, to try hard and create new traditions in this town. And while Daniel may be new to Antigonish and to our restaurant, his aspirations align with what ours have always been… fresh food, exciting flavours and quality products – and after ten years we are still thankful for the opportunity to bring that to you.