For more than 26 years, Danny Ocampo has been a part of the Z’Tejas family. In 2023, he was promoted to corporate chef—and has since has a large part in updating the menu and opening new locations. Before finding the culinary world, Ocampo was a bull rider in Mexico. And even today, he still owns a ranch down South, where he loves to take care of his land and horses. 

You have had an interesting career! Let’s talk first about when you were a bull rider in Mexico. 

Bull riding was my passion ever since I was young. I grew up on my grandparents’ ranch and learned a lot about strength and responsibility. I loved watching the bull riders and decided when I was in my mid-teens that I wanted to ride, too.  

What did you love about bull riding?

I love the adrenaline and all the excitement! It was hard but I wanted to be different from anyone else.  

Favorite moment? 

My favorite moment was getting second place in one of the big rodeos in my hometown.

Scariest moment? 

I don’t really have one! I knew what I was signing up for. 

What drew you to the culinary field after that?

After I had my first child, I decided it was time to find a more low-key career. I already loved to make carne asada and cook, so it felt like the right next step to take care of my kids.

You’ve been working with Z’Tejas for more than 25 years. What keeps you there? 

I believe in doing my job 100%, all of the time. The team at Z’Tejas appreciates my hard work and that kind of support keeps me going. 

You are very involved with the menu. What inspires your changes? 

Honestly, the customers. We have so many regulars who love the original menu and I wanted to get back to that. 

Your favorite dish there?

That’s a hard one. My favorite is the chorizo meatloaf—it is my recipe after all! 

Any upcoming things we can look forward to?

We are bringing back even more of the classics! So if Z’Tejas used to be a favorite haunt, come back. We’ll have all your favorites. 

What are your favorite places around Scottsdale—besides Z’Tejas, of course!

It’s not a restaurant but I love Chapparal Park. 

When you’re not cooking, we’d find you … 

You’ll find me spending time with my kids at home or at the park. If I have a longer break, you’ll find me back at my ranch in Mexico. 

Danny Ocampo