Category Archives: Creativity

The Chef Sessions with Hugo Ortega – Caracol – Houston, TX

hugo ortega

Hugo Ortega is executive chef/co-owner of four of Houston’s top restaurants – Backstreet Cafe, Hugo’s, Caracol and Xochi, and winner of Best Chef: Southwest at the prestigious 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards.  (He was a finalist for the award for six consecutive years, 2012- 2017.)  Ortega has been recognized locally, nationally and globally for his inspirational story and his passion for sharing traditional Mexican cooking and culture.

Ortega’s American Dream story started at Backstreet Cafe, a neighborhood bistro started by Tracy Vaught in 1983. He began his career in the restaurant business first as dishwasher and busboy and later as a line cook before graduating from culinary school and later becoming Backstreet’s executive chef. He and Vaught married, and together, they have created an award-winning Houston restaurant family that also includes Hugo’s and Caracol.

Chef joins us in this episode of Let The Music Play Podcast as we discuss his journey to where he is today, how he cultivates his creativity, and his simplistic wisdom on life, relationships, and great food.

You can stream this episode and all other episodes of Let The Music Play Podcast at, iTunes, and Stitcher.



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Does it ring true in nature?

This is a great question to ask at various stages of relationships, businesses, and even your very own life?

Seasons | Change, endings, and new beginnings are the rhyming theme of all things.

Ecosystems | Even what appears to be uncorrelated can actually be correlated. It’s all connected.

The collective good | Wind, rain, fire are working together to continually usher life and beauty into its various forms.

Growth followed by loss | You can’t get from summer to spring without autumn and winter.

Loss followed by renewal and growth | The hidden and unseen work is always laying the foundation for tomorrow’s growth.

Night and day | You won’t always be able to see well. And even when you can’t see well, give it time for your eyes to adjust to seeing in the dark.

If it’s not something you can see happening beneath your feet or before your eyes, it might be short-lived, unsustainable, unhealthy, and unrealistic.


The Chef Sessions No. 4 with Adana’s Shota Nakajima – Seattle, WA


Chef Shota Nakajima began his culinary journey at the age of sixteen, working for a well-acclaimed sushi restaurant in his hometown of Seattle, WA. At the age of eighteen, Nakajima moved to Osaka, Japan to learn about the art of Japanese cuisine. In Japan, Nakajima had the opportunity to work for Michelin Star rated Chef Yasuhiko Sakamoto. As one would expect, this experience changed Chef Shota’s perspective on cooking.

Since returning to Seattle, it has been Nakajima’s dream to convey Chef Sakamoto’s approach to hospitality and Japanese cuisine in the United States.

Learn more about Chef Shota and Adana below.

You stream this episode and all other episodes of Let The Music Play Podcast in iTunes and Stitcher.





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The sting.


It’s the most excruciating sting in the human experience.

What we didn’t say or convey. What we didn’t do or create. What we kept in our head and hearts instead of handing off to another.

These are the roots of so much that stings in our lives.

So before the clock hits 5:00,

…before you head home,

…before you turn on Jimmy Fallon and fall asleep,

…what will you do to avoid the sting?

…Who will you connect with?

…How will you touch the world, your industry, or your neighbor?

What will your verse be?

In the end, I’m glad I did > I wish I had.

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