YOUNGSTOWN - Chef Sonny P. Cortez, 46, passed away Thursday afternoon, Feb. 28, 2019, at his home, following a courageous battle with gallbladder cancer.
Sonny was born Aug. 20, 1972, in San Carlos City, Pangasinan, Philippines, a son of Orlando Sr. and Rosita Pastor Cortez. He immigrated to the United States in 1990, and became the adopted son of Joseph Jackanich.
Sonny was a renowned chef who began his culinary career working locally as a line cook at Perkins Restaurant in Boardman while helping his brothers and sisters earn their advanced degrees. He then earned a degree for himself in Culinary Arts from the International Culinary Center (formerly The French Culinary Institute) in New York City, where many famous chefs including Bobby Flay, David Chang, and Anthony Bourdain also attended.
After graduation, Sonny became a sous chef at the famous Michelin-starred restaurant, LeCirque, in New York City. He then worked at the five-star Pierre Hotel in New York City, where he prepared a meal for Betty White on her 89th birthday. Sonny greatly enjoyed his career and he loved to travel. He volunteered his time with God’s Love We Deliver, an organization that delivers meals to indigent and chronically-ill individuals, and he also volunteered with the James Beard Foundation, where he worked shoulder-to-shoulder with several world-renowned chefs.
Sonny was a very generous person with a soft heart and loving soul. He was the life of the party and loved by everyone who ever met him, especially his peers in New York City. Sonny came back to this area to be near to family after it was discovered he had cancer.
Sonny leaves to cherish his memory his mother, Rosita Cortez; six siblings, Renato (Katherine) Cortez, Mylene Cortez, Rowena (Jeff) Odoguardi, Orlando (Harriet) Cortez Jr., M.D., Lanny (Paul) Bennett, and Rommel (Jessica) Cortez, 12 nieces and nephews; his adoptive father, Joe Jackanich; his loyal and beloved dog, Sherry; and many extended family members and friends
Sonny will be truly and sadly missed by all who knew and loved him.
His father, Orlando Cortez Sr., preceded him in death.
Family and friends may call from 4 to 6 p.m., Sunday, March 3, at Kinnick Funeral Home, 222 S. State St., Girard.
Family and friends may also gather on Monday, March 4, from 9 to 9:45 a.m. at St Columba Cathedral in downtown Youngstown, where a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m.
Interment will follow at Resurrection Cemetery in Austintown.