ORLANDO (July 7, 2021) – At first blush, chunks of frozen ice and warm sunny Orlando don’t seem like a winning combination. However, for Chef Ricky Lopez, the new executive chef of the award-winning Rosen Plaza Hotel, this was his uncommon recipe for culinary success.
“I was working at a local Orlando theme park and was given the opportunity to learn about ice sculpting,” said Lopez. “I hoisted a power saw to these huge 300-pound blocks of ice and then just let my creative juices flow. Luckily for me, clients liked my ice sculptures, so I was offered a full-time job in the culinary department, where I continued to develop my knife skills while expanding my knowledge in the kitchen. This included creating meaningful menus for visitors from all over the world. Their joy in relishing these dishes that included a touch of home sparked my excitement to become a chef!”
Executive Chef Ricky Lopez was first exposed to culinary in Puerto Rico, where he was raised. Through his mother, one of 22 siblings who grew up on a farm there and who was one of the brood responsible for preparing meals for the entire family, Lopez initially learned his cooking skills.
Now in the melting pot of Orlando, Chef Ricky has found his culinary and professional home at Rosen Hotels & Resorts. A 13-year Rosen Hotels’ associate, Chef Ricky was the head chef of the AAA Four Diamond Cala Bella Italian bistro at sister property Rosen Shingle Creek before coming to Rosen Plaza 5 years ago as Executive Sous Chef.
“I am most fortunate to have been mentored by the company’s Executive Chef Jorge Oliveira,” said Chef Ricky. “His time, devotion and expertise has helped me, as well as many on his team, to expand our talents in ways we could never imagine.”
Chef Ricky is most proud of being part of the Rosen Hotels & Resorts’ family because of its dedication to guest service. “For me, the service is as important as the food. Both are required to present an incredible dining experience,” said Chef Ricky.
He is just as excited to infuse his personal passion throughout Rosen Plaza’s seven award-winning dining and lounging options, which include Jack’s Place restaurant, ’39 Poolside Bar & Grill and 3NINE entertainment venue.
“I am in love with cooking, learning about other countries, cultures and food,” said Chef Ricky.
Case in point. For Visit Orlando’s upcoming Magical Dining program, August 27 – October 3, Chef Ricky will incorporate a few international surprises among guest favorites for the Jack’s Place three-course menu. “I can’t wait to showcase our Grilled Octopus to tempt guests to go outside their comfort zones to try something new. Of course, favorites like Filet Mignon and Sea Bass will remain,” said Ricky. Jack’s Place at Rosen Plaza is one of USA Today’s “Top Ten Best Restaurants on International Drive.”
A trendsetter, much like that of the VIPs and celebrities whose autographed caricatures grace the walls of Jack’s Place restaurant, Chef Ricky was an integral team member in the development of Zayde’s Kosher Kitchen at Rosen Plaza five years ago. Chef Ricky also parlayed his ice sculpting prowess into creating the “Iced Out” winter holiday event, which attracted many of his friends and talented chefs to showcase their cool sculptures to the delight of hotel guests as part of a Rosen Plaza tradition.
When asked about his favorite dish that his talented team creates at Rosen Plaza, Chef Ricky responds “I love pork! We have a 14-ounce Pork Chop Bone-In Dry-Age Duroc at Jack’s Place. We sous vide it with garlic, shallots and herbs to a perfect temperature. Then we pan sear it hard with garlic, shallots and a signature herb basting sauce of oil, butter and the au jus of the pork.”
The dish is accompanied with garlic mashed potatoes, market fresh vegetables and a chimichurri sauce.
“You can’t beat the mouth-watering aroma,” says Chef Ricky.
Voted one of the “Top Ten Best Restaurants on International Drive” by USA Today, Jack’s Place features Orlando’s best steaks and seafood within a unique venue. An unparalleled collection of autographed celebrity “star” caricatures drawn by Harris Rosen’s father, Jack, the restaurant’s namesake, adorn its walls. Created from the 1930s to 60s during his time as a safety engineer at the Waldorf Astoria New York, Jack created a collection that is a veritable “who’s who” of the day’s politicians, actors, sports stars, international dignitaries and more. JFK, Jackie O, Marilyn Monroe, Winston Churchill, Babe Ruth, Salvador Dali, as well as the astronauts of Apollo 7, 8, 10 and 11, including Neil Armstrong, are among the collection, to namedrop a few.
Dine, then stay awhile or overnight to enjoy Rosen Plaza’s world-class amenities.
For guest safety and security and that of associates, Rosen Plaza implements Rosen’s Total Commitment. For more information, please visit RosenHotels.com/RosensTotalCommitment.
Rosen Plaza Hotel is located at 9700 International Dr., Orlando, FL 32819. For more information, please visit RosenPlaza.com.