CHEF VIKO ORTEGA
Born in 1966, Viko comes from a place called Peña Colorada, near Puebla, Mexico - a town so small, it doesn't exist on any map! He is the eldest of seven children, with somewhat fond memories helping his mother Alicia make pan dulce to sell at the family grocery store.
Wanting to escape from his baking duties, young Viko arrived in New York, eager to try his hand at many different trades. But he eventually settled into the very business he had run away from - and soon he was to discover his amazing cooking talents.
At first he began making pastries, at a French restaurant in Manhattan called Poiret. Then, he became a pastry chef at the Columbus Bakery in the Upper West Side, where he branched out into making salads and quiches.
In June of 2000 he opened La Flor, which was originally meant to offer only baked goods and coffee, with some Mexican products on the side. Very quickly it became the center of culinary delights in this rather ugly stretch of Woodside, with its colorful mosaics (made by Viko himself), hidden right under the rumbling train tracks.
Since then, La Flor has boasted high ratings in all of its reviews, including at Zagat’s, New York Magazine, The New York Times, and Time Out New York.
In 2009 Viko began working at Sequoia at South Street Seaport, where within a year he became the general chef there. After Superstorm Sandy hit, he began regular stints at other establishments, including those in Washington, DC and Atlantic City. He also helped to develop the menu at Boston’s historic Durgin Park, featuring Yankee cuisine.
At present Viko is also co-owner and head chef of a few other food establishments, including a steakhouse in Chelsea called Chuck and Blade, a popular bar also in Chelsea called Buns Bar, as well as a chocolate chip cookie business, called Chipz Cookies.
He and his wife Rita have one daughter Jeannette, an Amherst graduate who has taught high school in Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico and now is a teaching fellow in New York City; along with a son Christian, a recent Pace College graduate in writing.