Jorge Guzman was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up in and around his father’s hotel, restaurant and discotheque businesses. He started small, working the ice cream cart at the age of ten. Pursuing his artistic talents, he attended the Altos de Chavon School of Design. He then spent some time in producing and promoting music concerts. Jorge soon found that he had inherited his father’s true passion for the hospitality industry, which led Jorge to make a move to New York City to gain experience with the finest restaurateurs in the world.
Jorge took on positions in some of the city’s most prestigious restaurants, including Le Cirque, Annisa and One If By Land, working with industry leaders Danny Meyer, David Friedman and Simon Oren. As he worked, his responsibility grew into leadership roles. During this time Jorge obtained certification from the International Wine Center, and completed the New School’s Restaurant Management course; he realized he wanted to own his own restaurant.
In December 2009, at the age of 26, Jorge Guzman seized an opportunity to partner with respected chef Luis Mota to found Ofrenda Cocina Mexicana, in New York’s West Village. True to the meaning of the word Ofrenda, Jorge led the team, now including Executive Chef Mario Hernandez, to offer his adopted city of New York authentic, home-cooked, traditional Mexican food, paired with fine wines and his own expertly crafted cocktails (he is a master Mixologist, working with several tequila brands, creating original recipes not only for his own restaurants but in a consulting capacity). Jorge is certain that his father would be proud that Ofrenda has become one of the highest rated Mexican restaurants in New York City, and that he is now the sole owner.
Under the newly formed banner of Jorge Guzman Hospitality Group, he and Chef Mario created The Black Ant, which opened in the East Village in May 2014. Here, the menu is Contemporary Mexican, with a component of ants, chapulines and other insect ingredients, bringing the international culinary commonplace to New York’s diners. Some of Guzman’s cocktails here also incorporate insects; in ant salt rims, for example—not as a novelty, but as a truly serious culinary element.
2015 will see Jorge Guzman Hospitality expanding boldly: first, with Gardenia, a Mediterranean/Latin project on the West Village’s Downing Street. Here, his cocktails will incorporate a floral element, another expression of the restaurant’s theme, complimenting Chef Hernandez’s artful presentations. Later in the year, El Temerario will open in the Chelsea neighborhood: with Chef Mario and Black Ant partner Cliff Freid, it will serve Mexican-style street food, and specialty cocktails. Next door to El Temerario, there will also be a café/bistro/wine bar serving American/Latin cuisine (to be named). With these projects, Jorge Guzman will become one of New York’s leading entrepreneurial representatives for the cause of Latin cuisine and mixology.