The AAA Four Diamond InterContinental Houston – Medical Center has appointed Harol Ortiz to the role of Executive Chef. In this capacity, the hospitality veteran brings his international culinary flair to the hotel’s acclaimed Safina all-day, modern Mediterranean eatery and cosmopolitan craft cocktail destination, The Naturalist Café & Lounge Bar, in addition to functions utilizing the property’s 18,000 square feet of stylish, state-of-the-art meeting and event space.


Located at the western gateway to the Texas Medical Center, steps from Hermann Park and Rice University, as well as within close proximity to attractions including NRG Stadium, Rice Village, and the Museum District, the 354-room luxury hotel was recently recognized by the InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) for the company’s highest rated customer service in North America and is currently ranked among the top three hotels for customer service in Houston by TripAdvisor.


“Chef Ortiz has the expertise, creativity, and skill to execute the premier culinary experience guests have come to expect from the InterContinental Houston – Medical Center,” said Doug Kelly, the hotel’s Director of Sales & Marketing. “His experience at some of the best hotels on the IHG roster is proving this to be a seamless transition, and we we’re especially excited to see him execute his vision for Safina, which has become a dining destination unto itself.”


Bringing his own touch to the “land meets sea” focus at Safina, Ortiz is in the process of launching a steak menu to pair with the hotel’s extensive wine list. He will also bring Poached Pear Salad with Cambozola cheese and organic mixed greens to the summer menu along with Bone-In Short Ribs with potato pave, green bean and carrot bundle, and a merlot demi-glace. He will also bring in seafood dishes such as Grilled Octopus with fennel roasted potatoes, and yellow Romanesco sauce and Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass with roasted corn puree and green beans.


A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Ortiz’s experience spans from Washington, D.C. to Miami, where he was a two-time Greater Miami and The Beaches Hotel Association Inn Key Awards Best Chef winner. Prior to joining the InterContinental Houston – Medical Center, Ortiz was the Executive Chef of Hotel Colonnade Coral Gables, an Autograph Collection property in the Miami area, where he was also the chef and proprietor of La Churuata, a well-regarded Latin BBQ restaurant with a special focus on Venezuelan specialties. Before that, he served as the Executive Chef of the famed InterContinental the Willard Washington D.C.


Ortiz began his culinary career in Miami as a line cook at Blue Café and later worked at The Setai Miami Beach, where his exposure to Asian, Indian, and French techniques sparked his interest in culinary school. He began his studies at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Miami, earning his associate degree in culinary arts, and then his bachelor’s degree in food and beverage from San Ignacio University. Ortiz has also served as Sous Chef at Hotel Victor South Beach and Executive Sous Chef at Miami’s Shiraz Catering.


Follow the link for a press photo of Harol Ortiz.


About InterContinental Houston – Medical Center

Revel in modern design paired with unrivaled hospitality in the heart of the Texas Medical Center at the InterContinental Houston – Medical Center. Adjacent to the world’s largest medical center, this AAA Four Diamond property ranks in the top five recommended hotels by TripAdvisor and provides easy access to the city’s top attractions such as NRG Stadium, the Houston Zoo, and Hermann Park with METRORail or rentable Bcycle bikes, within walking distance of the property. Discover Houston’s fine dining, renowned international arts, and famous Museum District. If rest and relaxation is your aim, take comfort in the hotel’s spacious luxury suite or discover the acclaimed Mediterranean flavors and beautiful décor of Safina or crafted cocktails at The Naturalist Café and Lounge.


About Safina and The Naturalist Café and Lounge Bar

Lebanese for boat, Safina not only transports with its food, but also a luminous ambiance that beautifully captures the spirit of the Mediterranean with soaring ceilings, walls of glass, whitewashed plaster and dramatic pops of color including mosaic tile work. While retaining an open feeling, the restaurant is divided into four spaces: The Naturalist Café and Lounge Bar, coffee bar, dining room and private dining room. Guests enter through the lounge, which evokes beach references with sand-colored, variegated stone flooring, blue soft seating and an impressionistic glass bird – or fish depending on the eye of the beholder – installation floating overhead. The transition into the three progressively more formal areas is made by a series of signature stone arches leading to the private dining room, where they frame an intensely vivid garden mural by Mahmoud Farshchian, an internationally-acclaimed master of Persian painting and miniatures.