Armando Ortiz Martinez Chef/Co-Owner of Park Island Market and Cafe
What inspired you to become a chef? Definitely my mom. She was a homemaker with seven children and a husband, so of course she was always in the kitchen. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were all made from scratch every day. I would often help and that is where I learned how to prepare fresh home-cooked meals. Nothing ever came from a box.
Best thing you’ve ever eaten: Galantina, which is a turkey dish. I will actually be introducing it here at the cafe in the next few weeks.
Best cooking advice you’ve ever received: Anyone can prepare a meal, the important thing to remember is to always cook with love for the people you are cooking for. When you
cook truly from your heart, that is when all the flavors come together. Love will make even the most simple dish taste good.
Favorite ingredient: The three major ingredients needed to make any recipe taste great would have to be hot peppers, onion and garlic.
Favorite restaurant: I don’t really have a favorite restaurant. I eat a lot of real Mexican food, true Mexican food, not Tex-Mex and I can usually only get that when my mom comes into town or I visit.
Something few people know about you: How passionate I am in this environment. People think I am just another punch on a clock, but
our food is really my passion and I love to share that with others.
Favorite thing about Hot Springs: I came here in 1997 with only six months to stay. When I saw this town I was amazed and surprised at how beautiful this place was. This small town surrounded by a National Park, I fell in love the moment I saw it. The diversity this small town offers gives it the feel of a big metropolitan city. Here you have every opportunity to meet people from all over the world from Russia to Poland. It is truly amazing.