Florida Foodie: Chef turns coronavirus pandemic setback into opportunity

Francisco Cortes starts new business after getting laid off

ORLANDO, Fla. – The coronavirus pandemic has forced thousands of Floridians out of their jobs, many of whom worked in the food service industry.

Chef Francisco Cortes had just started a new job in March at B Resort and Spa. Seven days later, he was laid off.

What followed was a months long job search that ended up being fruitless. Then, he got a call saying a player inside the NBA bubble needed someone for meal preparations.

As it turns out, Oklahoma City Shooting Guard Hamidou Diallo, needed someone to prepare meals for him. That was the start of Cortes' rebound.

Cortes has had experience feeding professional athletes, he spent years working as a cook for the Atlanta Braves, and he was able to secure the job of preparing meals for Diallo.

Since then, he has started Simple as 123 Meal Prep and Catering.

Cortes shared with us the work he’s had to put into starting his own business in the middle of the pandemic, what his plans are for the future and also, some of the favorite dishes of the athletes he’s worked with.

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About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.