We would be honored if you would join with us at the Grand Opening of our client Candido Ortiz’s new restaurant, El Sabor Del Cafe, on Tuesday, December 19, at 11 a.m. The restaurant is located at 31 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Jersey City, NJ 07305.Pictured above are Candido (right) and JCETP case manager, Rev. Bolivar Flores. Below please find Candido’s personal narrative, as well as a video story about him.
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Candido Ortiz Biography
Candido Ortiz was sentenced to 49 years and six months, he commenced his incarceration in January 1990, and was released pursuant to federal clemency by President Obama in December 2016, as part of an ongoing effort to release prisoners with disproportionately harsh sentences.
While in prison, he enrolled in cooking classes, earning several culinary certifications and soon becoming head cook. In this role, he prepared meals for 1,500 to 2,500 prisoners daily and managed a team of 20 people in the kitchen. Candido believes that his dedication to learning and cooking is what led him to be released 18 years early. Candido’s incarceration also led him to receive a call from God. He became an avid reader of the bible and participated in bible studies with different pastors.
The same month that Candido was released from prison, he enrolled in the New Jersey Reentry Corporation’s (NJRC) program, where clients receive addiction treatment, structured sober housing, job training and employment, linkage to legal services and healthcare, and spiritual mentoring. After orientation, clients traditionally receive case management services for a six to nine-month period.
Within a week of completing the New Jersey Reentry Corporation’s orientation, Candido was employed as a cook at the Light Rail Café in Jersey City. Having benefitted from NJRC’s program, Candido says he has already recommended it to others.
Candido continued to seek out his spirituality after his incarceration. He joined a local ministry called Ministerio el Sol Sale Para Todos Internacional, where he was ordained as a reverend. Prior to being ordained, Candido completed three months of intensive training through the ministry. Today, he helps people who are struggling by providing spiritual guidance and referrals to NJRC and other social services.
Most recently, Candido accomplished one of his longtime goals: he opened his own restaurant, where he is the head chef. Located at 31 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Jersey City, it is called El Sabor Del Café. The restaurant features Spanish, American, and international cuisine and offers a la carte, catering, and delivery options.
“Cooking is my life, and I put love into everything I prepare,” Candido said. From the menu, Candido’s top recommendations are the chicken alfredo, shrimp alfredo, and chicken scampi.