Chef Emeterio Luna, known as “Chef Tello” around the kitchen, knows where his passion lies: “I love to cook with fresh ingredients!” As Head Chef for “Harry’s Poolside Bar & Grill” at The Rosen Centre in Orlando, Florida, Chef Tello puts his heart and creativity into every dish.
Born in Mexico, Chef Tello moved to New York City when he was sixteen years old. “My first job in the City was washing dishes… when I walked into the kitchen and saw all the celebrity chefs, the famous chefs that were well known in the New York restaurant circles, I knew I wanted to be one of them.”
As a dish washer, Chef Tello started at the bottom of the kitchen hierarchy, but he knew that was only going to be his first step towards his career, “I didn’t want to be washing dishes for a living, I needed to start learning from the chefs I met in the kitchen. So, I started asking them if I could help out, and they would let me assist in the prep, getting things ready for the busy day. Good things don’t happen overnight, it takes a lot of effort and patience to get the ball rolling, but little by little, if you have a passion for something, you will get there through hard work.”
His first steps to becoming “Chef Tello” had very simple beginnings. “I learned ‘old-school’ cooking from my Mom. We didn’t have all the modern equipment that most kitchens have, like blenders and ovens, we just didn’t have the money to buy them. My mom would dig a hole in the ground, build a fire in it, and cook ‘Bar-B-Que’ style.” When he got to New York City and saw all the tools and appliances used in the kitchens, Chef Tello told himself, “I can cook!” It was much easier than the way his mom had taught him!
Chef Tello is quick to answer when asked about his favorite dish: “Chicken Mole, definitely… it is a Mexican dish with a spicy-sweet sauce that has about 10 different ingredients. Momma used to make it on Sunday’s for dinner, it would take hours to make the sauce.” He says it is still one of his favorite dishes to make, although “no matter how good I make it, it never tastes as good as Momma’s!”
“If you want to become a chef, you have to have a passion for it, because it is not easy to work in a restaurant. There are a lot of long hours, you work holidays and weekends, and you need to have an artist’s eye to present the dishes, to prepare them in an appealing way.”
What do the guests like to eat at “Harry’s Poolside Bar & Grill” the most? “MahiMahi is a favorite dish here at ‘Harry’s’, and we cook it Carribean-style, which means we wrap the MahiMahi in a banana leaf, steam it, and then add a Coconut Curry sauce, Jasmine Rice, and Mojo Tostones. It’s really good, and once you try it, it will be your favorite, too!”
Let’s see… Florida sunshine – check! Tropical palm trees – check! A gorgeous, inviting swimming pool and lounge deck – check! A mouth-watering Carribean-Cuban styled gourmet meal served with a favorite tropical beverage – check! Paradise is found at “Harry’s Poolside Bar & Grill” at the Rosen Centre in Orlando, Florida… it’s a long way from cooking over a hole in the ground! Gracias, Chef Tello… ¡Te veo pronto!