With Hispanic Heritage Month in full swing (Sept. 15–Oct. 15), there’s no better time than right now to pay tribute to the many achievements of Hispanics in the United States. Today, I thought I would take the opportunity to highlight one of these inspiring stories about two of our Team Members here at Universal Orlando Resort.
Meet Chef Robert Martínez, Sr. and Chef Robert Martínez, Jr. Yes, you read that right. Puerto Ricans in descent, this father-son chef duo have been working together at Universal Orlando for 17 years (Although Chef Martínez, Sr. has been with the company for a whopping 28 years!).
They both got their start here as Production Cooks with no culinary schooling, and worked their way up from there. Now Chef Martínez, Sr. is an Executive Sous Chef and Chef Martínez, Jr. is a Research and Development Chef.
Over the years, the chefs have been fortunate enough to work alongside each other on numerous projects, including bringing the beloved dishes of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley to life. But, both chefs agree that the greatest project they have collaborated on was developing the menus for our newest water theme park, Universal’s Volcano Bay.
“We always worked on areas or themed lands, but Volcano Bay was the first full-blown theme park we helped create food for,” said Chef Martínez, Jr. “This water theme park was next level, and we just wanted to make really good food with no limitations to match the high expectations.”
And that’s exactly what they did.
Many months and many ideas later, the duo, along with Universal Orlando’s award-winning culinary team, finalized an extensive menu of more than 60 items composed of snacks, entrees, drinks and desserts. See below for one of these signature items – a Tamarind Glaze Salmon with Coconut Rice and Sweet Plantains – inspired by the chefs’ Hispanic roots!
Although Chef Martínez, Sr. and Chef Martínez, Jr. are very successful in their independent careers, they still rely on each other for guidance and advice.
“It made me so humble to know that my son has come so far. We’ve shared so many projects together that I can’t express how proud I am,” said Chef Martínez, Sr. “Wherever we go, and whatever we do, I will always say that it was my son and I.”
How do you celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month? Let us know in the comments below.