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Chef Hugo Ortega Donates More Than $100K to Fund Culinary Arts Scholarships

Plus, a Houston restaurant plans to serve a “natural Viagra” pill on Valentine’s Day and more Bayou City dining intel

Hugo Ortega Hot Dish Gallery
Chef Hugo Ortega

Welcome to AM Intel in the time of coronavirus, a round-up of the city’s newest bits of restaurant-related intel. Follow Eater on Facebook and Twitter for up-to-date details on how COVID-19 is impacting the city’s dining scene.

Chef Hugo Ortega makes big donation to fund culinary arts scholarships

A new endowment created by Chef Hugo Ortega and his family will give $100,400 to current and future culinary arts students at Houston Community College. The endowment, which was made by Ortega, his wife Tracy Vaught, and their daughter Sophie Ortega, will help fund the scholarships to the community college. In addition, HCC will name its new Culinary Arts Building, which opened in 2019, after the chef.

Ortega’s rise to become one of Houston most renown chefs is one for the story books. The Mexican immigrant first started working as a dishwasher at Backstreet Cafe before graduating from HCC’s program in 1992. He eventually worked his way up to executive chef and now co-owns four restaurants with wife Tracy, with a fifth, Urbe, on the way. In 2017, Ortega won the James Beard award for Best Chef in the Southwest. He is considered one of the best-known graduates of the HCC Culinary Arts program.

Musaafer will serve Kama Sutra-inspired “natural Viagra pill” for Valentine’s Day

Over-the-top Galleria-area Indian restaurant Musaafer has a special treat in store for Valentine’s Day diners — a house-made herbal supplement meant to mimic the effects of boner pill Viagra. The supplement, which executive chef Mayank Istwal is calling the V-pill, will include ashwagandha, Ayurvedic herbs, watermelon, blueberry, and Pop Rocks, “for textural sparkle”, Istwal tells the Houston Chronicle. The supplement is part of a seven-course Valentine’s Day menu inspired by the Kama Sutra, which will include “libido-boosting” spices and ingredients considered aphrodisiacs. Unfortunately, reservations for the meal are already sold out.

Grubhub partners with Houston nonprofit for Black History Month fundraiser

Food delivery app Grubhub has partnered with Houston nonprofit Feed the Soul Foundation, a group associated with Black Restaurant Week, to help provide grants and emergency funding for Black restaurant owners. The program, called Donate the Change, allows who use Grubhub to round their order to the nearest dollar, and donate the change to a monthly featured charity.

Minority-owned businesses have been especially hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic and economic turndown, According to the Houston Chronicle, in 2020, Feed the Soul received hundreds of applications for their Restaurant Business Development Fund — 94 percent of those applicants were Black.

The money raised from the Donate the Change program will go to several $10,000 grants for restaurant owners to help with business development, as well as emergency funds for events like weather-related closures or accidents.

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