Since opening its doors in August 2021, Virgin Hotels New Orleans has become one of the Crescent City’s top destinations for locals and visitors seeking an array of vibrant culinary and cocktail experiences. Now, with the holiday season looming large on the horizon, the lifestyle hotel brand has named Chris Borges as Executive Chef of Commons Club, the property’s signature dining concept. The Louisiana native will bring to the fore his signature culinary savvy, introducing a menu of seasonally-inspired dishes rich with influences from the West Coast and the Mediterranean, all with a delightful New Orleans touch.
Says Virgin Hotels New Orleans General Manager Cody Bertone: “A chef is a mixture of artistry and craft. But you must learn and execute the craft to perfection in order to deliver explosive flavors in every bite you take, and chef Chris does that in the most exquisite way. He combines local flavors with the European finesse. Every dish he makes is a must try. Chef Chris is an artist that I truly respect, and I am excited to taste all the creations he develops for Virgin New Orleans.”
Born and raised in New Orleans, Borges spent his childhood learning about the robust flavors and ingredients found along the Louisiana coast. After receiving a biology degree from Stanford University, he changed things up, studying at San Francisco’s California Culinary Academy; there he knew he wanted to pursue a career as a chef.
Along his culinary journey, Borges has honed his skills at renowned dining destinations including Infusion Bar & Restaurant and Cindy Pawlcyn’s Roti in San Francisco. As Executive Chef of the Bay Area’s premier catering company, Taste Catering, Borges executed and led the culinary vision for several high-profile events including President Barack Obama’s Green Tech Dinner, Christina Aguilera’s wedding, numerous Pixar movie premieres, Academy of Friends Oscar Gala, and much more.
Upon returning to New Orleans in 2017, Borges took over the culinary operations at The Ace Hotel New Orleans and Maison de la Luz, overseeing both properties’ banquet operations, as well as restaurants Josephine Estelle, Seaworthy, The Alto, and Bar Marilou. After a few years, Borges decided to step back from the kitchen and accepted the role of General Manager for JV Foods, where he re-energized his love for sustainable agriculture practices and fostered relationships with local farmers and purveyors.
Now, Borges returns to his culinary roots and was handpicked to helm the culinary direction of Virgin Hotels New Orleans.
According to Borges, “As a chef of a hotel restaurant, my goal is to appeal to both travelers, as well as locals who are looking to try new versions of classic dishes. The New Orleans influences you’ll find on the menu are what I consider a contemporary take on traditional classics. You won’t see jambalaya, seafood gumbo, or etouffee. But you will see my take on dirty rice, pasta and red gravy, gumbo z’herbes, and paneed veal. This is the food I grew up eating at home and it evokes powerful, personal memories for me. I hope that experience and a sense of nostalgia is felt in every dish.”
Under his tutelage, diners at Commons Club can enjoy sublime yet soulful dishes including Duck Confit Hash with celery root, mushroom ragu, farm egg, and salsa verde; BBQ Shrimp with brown butter, fermented garlic, espelette, lemon, and bottarga breadcrumbs; Paneed Veal with roasted broccoli, parsley, capers, white anchovy and grana; Iberico Pork Flank with Louisiana crab dirty rice, chard, sherry jus, and salsa verde; and Stuffed Squash with sunflower tahini, baby carrots, hearts of palm, quinoa, kale and brassica, to name a few. In his new role, Borges is also responsible for overseeing culinary operations at rooftop hotspot, The Pool Club, as well as hotel events and in-room dining.
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Photo: Chris Borges (Virgin Hotels New Orleans)