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Hotel Bel-Air

Hugo Bolaños, Executive Chef

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Named Executive Chef in 2013, Hugo Bolaños, is responsible for overseeing the entire food and beverage operation of the iconic hotel, including signature restaurant Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air, the popular bar and lounge, in-room dining, and banquets and events.

As a veteran team member of the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group since 2000, Bolaños has extensive experience in Los Angeles and has established himself as a significant presence in the local market and beyond. Most recently, he was the chef de cuisine at Puck's CUT, awarded one star by Michelin and three stars in the LA Times, and the adjacent Sidebar lounge. Prior to this, Bolaños was the executive sous chef at the world-renowned and flagship two-star Michelin rated Wolfgang Puck restaurant, Spago. He has also worked with Wolfgang Puck catering, and was responsible for executing high-profile awards season events, movie premieres, and celebrity-attended special events.

A native of Guatemala, Bolaños honed his culinary skills at an early age, learning the art of Guatemalan cuisine from his motherand assisting in the preparation of family meals throughout his childhood. He continued his training at some of the world's finest restaurants including Alain Ducasse (Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris), Restaurant Daniel (Daniel Boulud, NYC), Babbo (Mario Batali, NYC), and Le Bernardin (Eric Ripert, NYC). Realizing that a kitchen is the ultimate culinary classroom, Chef Hugo takes great pride knowing that he learned his craft by working his way up through the ranks in bustling restaurants with allstar chefs at the helm.

In his current role, he still collaborates with renowned industry leaders through the hotel's popular Visiting Chef series, working alongside culinary masters like Francis Mailman, Daniel Humm, David Chang,and Massimo Bottura. Chef Bolaños is also passionate about 'cooking for a cause,' organizing elaborate fundraising events to help those in need. His successful efforts in this regard have resulted in raising $100 ,000 for hurricane victims in Mexico, Florida and Puerto Rico, and $10,000 for Habitat for Humanity Guatemala.

Since opening in the fall of 2011, Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air has earned numerous awards and accolades, including a Three-Star rating in the Los Angeles Times, named a Top US Hotel Restaurant in Food & Wine magazine, Best in Service by Zagat and listed among America's Hottest New Restaurants by Travel & Leisure magazine.

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Hotel Bel-Air Signature Tortilla Soup

Ingredients – serves 6
4 sweetcorn cobs, husked
3 Guajillo chilies, deseeded and destemmed
8 garlic cloves, crushed
2 onions, chopped
2 jalapeños, chopped
4 corn tortillas, chopped
4 large ripe vine tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
4 tbsp tomato purée
½ tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1.2L chicken stock
½ tbsp vegetable oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Method

1. Preheat oven to 177°C/350°F. 
2. Soak the Guajillo chilies in 235ml of hot water for 15 minutes until softened.
3. Once soft, use a hand blender to blend the chilies with water and tomato purée until smooth.
4. Cut the corn off the cobs and set the cobs aside.
5. Toss the onion, garlic, jalapeños, sweetcorn and tomatoes with 45ml of oil, 1½ tbsp kosher salt and ½ tbsp of freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 12-15 minutes until lightly caramelized. Set aside.
6. Fry the tortillas in a fryer at 180 oC/360 oF degrees or in a very hot pan until golden brown. Set aside.
7. In a large braising pan, add the roasted vegetables, chicken stock, corn cobs, tortillas, Guajillo chili purée and ground cumin. Cook over a medium heat until the soup is reduced by around a third to the desired consistency – approximately one hour.
8. Discard the corn cobs, tilt the pan forward and blend the ingredients with a hand mixer to combine. Divide into large bowls. 9. Blend the soup a second time until completely smooth.

Ingredients for the Topping

¼ of chicken breast
¼ of a medium diced avocado
2½ tsp crème fraîche
½ a dried red chili, cut into very thin strips (more or less depending on spice preference)
Small sprig of fresh coriander
4 fried corn tortilla strips (cut thinly)

Method

Sauté the chicken breast, dice and season with salt and pepper.
Divide the chicken pieces and avocado between separate bowls, then add a quenelle of crème fraiche.
Carefully pour the soup into each bowl.
Garnish with the fried tortilla strips, chili threads and coriander.