Cyril Ortigosa-Liaz
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Cyril Ortigosa-Liaz

Second Cook
Yale University
New Haven, Conn.
Age 39

Top accomplishment this year:
Participating in an American Culinary Federation culinary competition, which included a four-course mystery basket, and receiving feedback that the dishes were tasty and elegant.

What would you say you excel at over more seasoned employees? 
Adaptability. I worked for a long time as a seasonal employee, going through many of the greatest places every four to six months. I worked in new environments with new chefs, kitchens, menus and customer expectations, all the time, all the way around this beautiful country. That taught me how to adapt within a few days, not weeks or months.

What do you value most in a workplace? Are there any ways your workplace delivers on that?
Diversity. It’s awesome, and Yale definitively delivers big time on that. I ask my staff before Thanksgiving what they are up to, and the conversation goes on, turkey, mashed potatoes cranberry sauce. Sure enough a Jamaican colleague says, “Drum barrel, jerk turkey, red rice and beans, coconut milk.” That’s awesome and makes you a better cook, too.
 
What’s the only thing you wish you could change about the industry?
The equipment. They need to come up with a standard where we can easily interchange the top: Asian wok one day, crepes at night, paella and plancha the next day, flexibility. It’s archaic to think that a cooking station can only cook one thing for the next 25 years for such a high cost.

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