Our Team


Phillip Lopez | ROOT

Phillip L. Lopez

Executive Chef

Phillip Lopez is Executive Chef, Co-Owner and Creative Director of Root, Square Root, Root2, The Test Kitchen, and Part & Parcel Delicatessen in New Orleans, Louisiana. From a military family, Phillip spent his childhood living in Germany, France, Spain, Austria, Holland, and Puerto Rico. After moving to New Orleans, he landed his first culinary job with Chef John Besh.  In 2005, Phillip was displaced to Washington, DC following Hurricane Katrina, and had the opportunity to train under celebrated Chef Michel Richard of Citronelle. Returning to New Orleans several months later, Phillip re-joined Chef Besh and worked throughout the restaurant group. In 2010 Lopez became Executive Chef of Restaurant Rambla, a contemporary restaurant with French and Spanish influences.

Parlaying his significant experience and training, Lopez opened Root in November 2011 to much acclaim. Root was named one of Bon Appétit’s 50 Best New Restaurants; awarded “Best New Restaurant” by New Orleans Magazine; received the “So Hot Right Now” Eater Award for New Orleans; and earned a rare 4-bean review by The Times Picayune, in it’s first year. Root and Lopez have been featured in Southern Living, Fodor’s Travel Intelligence, and Forbes magazine, as well as many local and regional publications.

Lopez has been a Louisiana Cookin’ Magazine “Chef to Watch” (2011) and in 2012, he was Eater New Orleans “Chef of the Year,” as well as a Star Chefs “Rising Star Chef.”  Most recently Phillip was named to Gambit Weekly’s list of  “40 Under 40.”

In April 2014, Square Root opened in New Orleans’ evolving Lower Garden District neighborhood. Square Root centers on a contemporary kitchen design, where modern culinary techniques are the main attraction. As a force for new ideas in food preparation, techniques, textures, and service Philip’s concept behind Square Root earned him a pre-opening mention in Condé Nast Traveler.

Maximilian G. Ortiz


Maximilian Ortiz is Co-Owner of Root, Square Root, Root2, The Test Kitchen and Part & Parcel Delicatessen in New Orleans, Louisiana. Partnering with Executive Chef Phillip Lopez, Maximilian turned their dream into reality with the opening of Root, the foundation of Rebel Restaurant Group. He has an ardent understanding of the restaurant industry honed from over fifteen years of experience working with some of New Orleans most celebrated establishments, including Bella Luna, and Restaurant August.

While finishing college at Loyola University, Maximilian fell in love with the service industry, detouring from his original path to law school.  Passionate for food and service, Maximilian found great inspiration working with chefs such as Horst Pfeiffer and John Besh; their culinary accomplishments played a huge role in shaping his future. It was at Restaurant August that Maximilian met Phillip and realized they shared a common vision for moving forward with their own projects in New Orleans’ dynamic dining scene.

From that vision came Root, a forward-thinking restaurant that opened in November of 2011. The restaurant’s success resulted in many accolades and awards: Bon Appétit’s 50 Best New Restaurants; “Best New Restaurant,” New Orleans Magazine; “So Hot Right Now” Eater New Orleans Award; and most coveted, a rare 4-bean review from The Times Picayune. In 2012, Maximilian was named “Maître d’ of the Year” by New Orleans Magazine, and selected to Gambit Weekly’s “40 Under 40” List.

In April 2014, Max and Phillip’s newest venture, Square Root opened in New Orleans’ evolving Lower Garden District neighborhood. Square Root centers on a contemporary kitchen design, where modern culinary techniques are the main attraction, along with impeccable service. For Maximilian, Chef Phillip and their Rebel Restaurant group, this is only the beginning.

Blake Abene | ROOT

Blake Abene

Executive Pastry Chef

Blake Abene is the Corporate Executive Pastry Chef for the Rebel Restaurant Group. He specializes in modern techniques in pastry to accentuate the progressive flavors and textures of Chef Phillip Lopez. He joined the Rebel Restaurant Group team in August 2014.

Blake is a 2008 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. He honed his craft in New York City under award winning Executive Pastry Chef Johnny Iuzzini at Jean-Georges restaurant and bread baking legend Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery. In late 2010, Blake was hired as Chef de Partie at Corton, a Michelin 2-star restaurant, where he was quickly promoted to Pastry Sous Chef and ultimately Executive Pastry Chef. His work was featured in the Wall Street Journal and People Magazine. Heading South to Lousiana, Blake landed at Stella and reinvented the dessert, cheese, bread and mignardise programs, earning him accolades from customers and critics alike. Since joining the Rebel Restaurant Group in 2014, Chef Blake Abene has been awarded 2015 Chefs to Watch by Louisiana Cookin’ Magazine and Starchefs Rising Star Pastry Chef 2016.