La Familia Cortez
Chef Cariño Cortez is a third-generation Cortez family member and food enthusiast who grew up surrounded by the smells, flavors, storytelling and memories that family meals and cooking bring together. As a member of the third generation of the Cortez family, Cariño started her career in the family business in her teenage years and has worked nearly every job imaginable from hostess to catering employee to floor manager. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Accounting, Cariño earned a Culinary Arts Degree fromthe Culinary Institute of America Hyde Park to blend her business foundation with her love of comida. Cortez spent her externship working in New York City three-Michelin-starred restaurant, Jean Georges, later going on to study authentic Mexican food in Chicago under Rick Bayless. At the Michelin-starred restaurant, Topolobampo, she worked as a lead line cook under Chef de Cuisine Andres Padilla, and was able to hone her culinary skills on the restaurant’s monthly menu development team.
More than 75 years since her grandfather began Mi Tierra Café y Panadería, Cariño’s passion for cooking and her knowledge of the business is a perfect fit for her role as Project Manager with La Familia Cortez Restaurants. Following her father, Jorge, into the family business, Cariño served as the project manager and opening chef ofViva Villa, the newest concept in La Familia Cortez Restaurants’ portfolio that opened to rave reviews in 2015. Viva Villa continues the family legacy of providing the highest quality food, authentic culture and sincere hospitality every day—the same values that drive Cariño in her overall role with the restaurants.
Another family tradition that Cariño holds dear is giving back to the community. She regularly lends her expertise in culinary arts to support the community by sharing her talents with organizations such as the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas, Houston Street Charities’ San Antonio Cocktail Conference, La Zona Cultural, VIA Metropolitan Transit and more. As an active member of the business community, she is a graduate of the Alex Briseño Leadership Program, the SA Leadership Organization of Professionals and is a member of Leadership San Antonio Class 41. Additionally, she presented at TEDx San Antonio 2016, addressing “Connection through Comida”, and she serves as a San Antonio Express News Community Advisory Board Member.
About La Familia Cortez Restaurants
Established in 1941, La Familia Cortez Restaurants proudly provides the highest quality food, authentic culture, sincere hospitality and dedicated community patronage through four restaurants in San Antonio’s Historic Market Square area. Mi Tierra Café y Panadería and its adjacent Mariachi Bar, La Margarita Restaurant & Oyster Bar, Restaurante Pico de Gallo and Viva Villa Taqueríainclude more than 600 team members working alongside the second, third and fourth generations of the Cortez family to preserve and grow the traditions, flavors and culture that make San Antonio such a unique and vibrant city. For more information, visit www.lafamiliacortez.com.