ORTOLAN | Los Angeles
Ron Mendoza began his culinary career at the age of 25 after
eight years of working in retail. Wanting to pursue a career that
was more rewarding on a daily level and more creative on a grander
scale, he enrolled at the California School of Culinary Arts. During
his studies, Mendoza joined Joachim Splichal's Patina Group, starting
on the hot line of Nick and Stef's steakhouse.
Mendoza eventually advanced on to Patina Restaurant where he began
rigorous pastry training under Michelle Myers. He continued on to
work for David Myers at Restaurant Jaan in both savory and pastry
areas. Most recently, Ron worked with both David and Michelle at
Sona, where his versatility combined with an incessant energy and
enthusiasm inspired him to create noteworthy desserts for the restaurant.
This spring, Ron took on the executive pastry chef position at
Ortolan and the opportunity to work with critically acclaimed chef
AB: You attended California
School of Culinary Arts; correct?
RM: Yes, I’ve been in
pastry for only six years. I started out in savory. Culinary school
is good but not the answer for everything or everyone. You must
also do your own research. School just aids you.
AB: What pastry or kitchen
tools can’t you live without?
RM: I hardly ever use molds.
I like organic, free-flowing pastries. My plastic scraper is always
in my pocket. I can cut and pick things up with it. I love the Pacojet,
I’ve been using it for six years. It makes granitas, ice creams,
mousses and whipped creams.
AB: What are your favorite
RM: Herbs are very underused
in the pastry arts. They add such freshness. And everything starts
with fruit, even if it isn’t the main component.
AB: What are your top three
tips for dessert success?
RM: Balance of flavors. The
best desserts are made in the moment, and textures are key for a
fully composed dish.
AB: Who are your mentors/pastry
RM: Pierre Herme, Albert Adria,
and Oriol Balaguer. They are classically trained but innovative.
They think outside the box in terms of flavors, textures and techniques.
AB: What are your favorite desserts?
RM: Ice cream. When I have
vanilla, I like Tahitian. And gooey chocolate chip cookies.
AB: What trends do you see
emerging in pastry arts?
RM: I see the cross of savory
and sweet using far more ingredients, like spices, herbs and vegetables,
and using cooking techniques like sautéing and braising.
AB: Where do you see yourself
in 5 to 10 years?
RM: Still doing what I’m
doing but continually progressing. I would like to teach certain
philosophies of desserts.