Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Chef Omar Torres spent much of his adult life in Orlando, Florida.
After graduating high school early, he went to college and began working at the Hard Rock Café. Although his boss asked him repeatedly to become a supervisor at the restaurant, he declined. A student of aviation, his dream was to become a pilot.
After the attacks of 9/11, however, commercial airlines were on the decline.
“I took some time off,” Torres says. “The idea was to take a year off until things got a little better.”
At Valencia College, he enrolled in a hotel restaurant management program, and finally took the opportunity to become a supervisor at the Hard Rock, meeting celebrities and rock bands as he worked in catering. Soon he got a job with the Orlando Magic as head chef in the arena club, mingling with players and owners.
“I was loving it,” he says. “I love art. I love creating. That’s what motivates me.”
To further his career in creating unique cuisine, he moved on to the J.W. Marriott & Ritz Carlton Grand Lakes. As he continued to learn from top chefs in the industry, slowly, aviation went away.
Next came the Waldorf Astoria Bonny Creek, where he learned from Master Pastry Chef Francis Metais. At the Ritz Carlton in Naples, he worked with Chef George Fistrovich at a 5-Diamond Hotel. Now, it was time to become Director of F&B at the Marriott Autograph Collection, in charge of its esteemed Bohemian, Celebration and Castle restaurants.
Chef Torres hopes to bring in new guests with his creative dishes. But his main goal is to unite a community of farmers and artisans.
At the beach, he discovered, “There is more culture, more heart – and less traffic.”
Come discover the magic of Chef Omar’s cooking when you dine at the all-new Bonsai, located on the second floor of Hilton Pensacola Beach.