Our People, Our Stories

Sweet Home Chicago

Chef Jose Orozco

by Brian Wubbena

picture of Chef Jose Orozco

Truluck’s is gearing up to reopen its downtown Chicago restaurant—and it’s set to be better than ever. The gentleman behind the location’s rebirth and driving the culinary ship is Chef Jose Orozco. Known for his leadership and high-quality standards, Chef Jose has spent the last year traveling the Truluck’s map to locations including Dallas, Houston, Austin, Miami and Rosemont, honing in on skills and sharpening his tools needed to knock the Chicago reopening out of the park.

Chef Jose started cooking at just 9 years old for his siblings, as his parents were hard workers with long hours. As he began to enjoy cooking, he started watching “Essence of Emeril,” a Food Network show, to help plan home menus. Chef Jose says his first true success was cooking a hot sandwich on the stove—and that was the beginning. His parents eventually allowed him to plan all family meals, and he would make the weekly grocery lists around his menus.

Once Chef Jose entered high school, he had access to a full commercial kitchen. Although Emeril was a great teacher, the kitchen really launched his education. According to Chef Jose, he had a great teacher who took special interest in him and introduced to him all of the basics needed to build a solid culinary foundation. From fish cutting and eggs to basic knife skills, he absorbed the information like a sponge and spent more and more time in the cooking lab.

picture of Chef Jose Orozco and classmates picture of Chef Jose Orozco

After making it to high school regional cooking competitions, Chef Jose decided that cooking was going to be his career. He discovered Chef Marco Pierre White and “The Silver Palate Cookbook,” leading him to better understand basic cooking principles that take most young cooks years to process.

Instead of spending his summer following graduation cutting loose, Chef Jose jumped right into culinary school and working in his first real restaurant. But what he quickly learned was that cooking at home didn’t necessarily prepare you for working on a line—his first shift was tough and he considered ending his career at that point.

picture of Chef Jose Orozco and special event coordinator Cassandra Mazur picture of Chef Jose Orozco

If he had, our story would be over. However, he worked through the tough times and went on to work in a number of restaurants. Different lessons came from everywhere and he eventually landed on Truluck’s doorstep, as he was drawn to a kitchen with good energy and positivity, but also provided the ability to continue to learn.

“After my world tour, I realized that this was right for me and Truluck’s was my home,” says Chef Jose.

picture of Chef Jose Orozco

As Chef Jose looks to his future, expect to see quite a bit of him, his exuberance, high energy and passion at Truluck’s. He’s excited to be a mentor and share everything that he has learned. When he’s not cooking, he refers to himself as a “metalhead” and has even taught himself to play guitar by ear.

picture of Chef Jose Orozco picture of Chef Jose Orozco