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Des Plaines’ Ordonez earns regional champ at LongHorn

July 02, 2017
By Anna Marie Kukec

  • Ernesto Ordoñez en frente del LongHorn Steakhouse en Des Plaines después de haber sido nombrado campeón regional en el concurso Steak Master Series.
    Ernesto Ordoñez stands outside the LongHorn Steakhouse in Des Plaines after he recently was named a regional champion in the restaurant’s Steak Master Series.

Des Plaines resident Ernesto Ordonez is the new regional champion ofLongHorn Steakhouse’sSteak Master Series.

Ordonez, who was born and raised in Pachuca Hidalgo, Mexico, won $300 for the regional title.

The culinary competition featured the restaurant’s top-performing grill experts, who vie for the title of steak master. Ordonez was one of 59 chefs from various LongHorn Steakhouses to achieve the regional title.

Ordonez, 39, said through an interpreter that he cooked a filet, a rib-eye and T-bone steaks as part of the local competition. It was the first time he won such a competition.

He has worked for about nine years at LongHorn at 1470 E. Touhy Ave. in Des Plaines and enjoys cooking with the team at the restaurant.

Being named a regional champion has inspired him, and he might one day open his own restaurant.

“This recognition is a well-deserved testament to Ernesto’s grilling expertise,” Paul Livrieri, executive vice president of operations at LongHorn Steakhouse, said in a statement.

The second annual Steak Masters Series awards cash prizes totaling $200,000. This year’s competition began on the restaurant level, with nearly 5,000 employees who participated in written tests and grill-offs.

All 490 LongHorn locations selected a representative for the regional round.

President Donald Trump announced new restrictions limiting U.S. citizens’ ability to travel to and do business in Cuba, moving to roll back a historic rapprochement led by the Obama administration that he frequently targeted on the campaign trail.

The changes Trump announced include a ban on Americans doing business with the military and intelligence-affiliated companies that control large swaths of the Cuban economy. He unveiled the new policy during a speech in Miami, where the fervently anti-Castro expatriate community helped elevate Trump to an electoral victory in the crucial battleground state.

“I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba,” Trump told a cheering crowd that included veterans of the failed U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion of the island in 1961.

Trump painted his moves as a fulfillment of his campaign promise to reverse the thaw under the Obama administration, saying Cuba had failed to make progress improving human rights. His predecessor’s efforts to end the decades-old U.S. isolation of Cuba “does not help the Cuban people; they only enrich the Cuban regime,” he said.

The action stirred a rare rebuke of the Republican president from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has otherwise backed much of Trump’s agenda.

“Unfortunately, today’s moves actually limit the possibility for positive change on the island and risk ceding growth opportunities to other countries that, frankly, may not share America’s interest in a free and democratic Cuba that respects human rights,” Myron Brilliant, the chamber’s executive vice president and head of international affairs, said in a statement emailed to reporters

Trump was joined on the trip by vocal critics of President Barack Obama’s attempt to resume more normal relations with the communist nation. Senator Marco Rubio, the Cuban-American Republican who represents Florida, traveled on Air Force One to the event with Trump, alongside Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, a Florida Republican who is the son of Cuban refugees. Trump tweeted a picture of the two lawmakers working to develop the new Cuba policy, part of what the White House said was extensive consultations with Capitol Hill.

Still, the president’s moves are not designed to massively disrupt existing commercial ties that have grown between the U.S. and Cuba since the Obama administration moved to restore diplomatic ties in late 2014. After his remarks, Trump signed an order directing the Treasury Department to make the changes.

The new rules restricting financial dealings with Cuban companies with links to the country’s military and intelligence services could stall future American development on the island. Grupo de Administracion Empresarial SA, known as GAESA, a state-run, military-affiliated conglomerate, owns almost all of the retail chains in Cuba and 57 of the mainly foreign-run hotels on the island. As part of Trump’s move, the U.S. State Department will create a list of Cuban entities with military ties so U.S. travelers know the establishments they are now expected to avoid.

Airports and ports are exempted from the ban, meaning cruise ships and airplanes can continue to operate their routes to Cuba. Even so, demand for flights and cruises could be depressed as the new limits complicate travel to Cuba.

Still, cruise operators applauded the decision to exempt ports from the new restrictions. Carnival Corp. said in a statement it was “pleased” the changes will allow its ships to continue to sail to

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