Johnny Ortiz is a genizaro, of native american and mother spain descent, born and raised in the small town of Taos, New Mexico, where he spent his youth primarily on the Taos Pueblo. It was here he first found his love for wild food, which is still an integral part of life of the culture. He remembers learning to eat the wild rose from his grandfather and how formative that single experience was.
In 2015, he started his own project, / Shed. The beginning of / Shed started with the thought of making an experience around food that was fully authentic, where every detail had meaning and where he could have interaction with every step of the process himself. More than a restaurant, / Shed is an ethos, an ongoing meditation on where he lives and is from in Northern New Mexico, a celebration of its nature and the fleeting of time. A dining series shaped by his familial Indigenous roots and the landscape around him. The exquisite land-inspired menu is paired with ceramic work by himself, that is dug of wild micaceous clay that has been used by his ancestors for generations.
In fall 2010, he dropped out after his first semester of business school and moved to Chicago to learn solely by trade. Having worked with food for five years already, he took a position at the restaurant Alinea, at the time being the youngest on the team. Sixteen months of intensive learning later, Johnny was eager to continue learning how to cook, going next to Lummi Island, Washington to work at the Willows Inn where he learned more about his love for wild and location specific food. After a season there Johnny moved to San Francisco, California to work with Josh Skenes at Saison. Johnny was on the opening team and started on the hearth/meat station, the heart of the restaurant. At the end of his first year, Johnny got promoted to Sous Chef, working second to Josh Skenes for the following three years during which he learned to cook with more intention, how to run a team, select the best produce, and overall how the inner workings of a restaurant worked. In Johnny’s mind there was never a question of returning home, but rather when that was going to happen.
Ortiz’s CR project will be on view in the galleries from October 1 – October 24. Learn more here.