My Latina inspiration: Chef Daisy Martinez

April 15, 2013

Today I have a very special Lunes Latino for you and as I wrote this post it became clear to me why I love blogging so much. By now, it is apparent that food is my passion, but writing? I never thought writing was going to be something I enjoyed this much. I first thought writing about food was such a good fit because it allowed me to have a creative outlet while still pursuing my culinary discoveries. Today I found another reason. It is through writing that I express myself without reservations. And you know how I came to this conclusion? Because with this post I plan to tell you all about my admiration for Latina Chef Daisy Martinez who, believe it or not, I have personally met  four times now and so far it has been 4 strikes and no hits trying to tell her all of this face to face.

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For those of you that have not had the pleasure to know about Daisy Martinez, please make sure you read her bio. In a nutshell, she has three cookbooks, has hosted TV cooking shows like Daisy Cooks on PBS, and Viva Daisy! on the Food Network and she is currently the Executive Chef at Mamiverse. My favorite part is that above all of that,  she is a true Latin food ambassador as her books and TV shows highlight the grand diversity of Latin cuisine. Although being of Puerto Rican descent she has not focused her work on just Puerto Rican food. Daisy has been a gate for the world to know more about food from Latin America beyond tacos, rice and beans.

Chef Daisy Martinez

When I first saw Daisy on the Food Network, I was hooked. I remember while watching her show I would tell my husband “This is Daisy Martinez, she is a Latina and she is on the Food Network”. Watching Daisy gave me this sense of pride and a feeling almost like personal accomplishment. Daisy’s success felt like my own, she is one of mine, she is a Latina like me and celebrating her was like celebrating family. I have been so inspired by her and the way she has put us Latinos, and especially Latina women, in a good light, embodying us as lively, positive, encouraging and hardworking people. She highlights how much food means to our culture and how we celebrate each other through meals made with love shared with family in the table. That is what I love most about her and that is what I aspire to do with Lunes Latinos, through this little corner of the internet.

In 2010 after having been Daisy’s fan for over a year I met her in person. I was invited to attend an event and I had no clue Daisy was going to be there. When I saw her I had to shake my head, rub my eyes and do a double take to confirm what my eyes were seeing. There she was and I just panicked. I was invited to this event as a way to get introduced to Latinas Unidas, a non for profit organization very near and dear to my heart, that supports Latina women in the Rochester area. So at the moment I could not jump up and down like a crazy fan as I had to focus on why I was there for. After that, I became part of Latinas Unidas board of directors and through this organization and over the years I got to know a different side of Daisy that not everyone has been able to get to know. Daisy has been like a madrina or hermana to Latinas Unidas. Since the first connection between Daisy and this organization, they have both joined forces to support programs in benefit of those who want to better themselves through studies. Every year Chef Daisy Martinez visits Rochester, NY to be the special guest judge and mentor in Rochester’s East High School Iron Chef competition and she is also the special guest of the annual Latina’s Unidas Women Scholarship fundraising event.

Daisy's Holiday Cooking Book Chef Daisy Martinez Autograph

As you can see, the Daisy I know is not just the sassy Latina chef, but she is also a caring and kind-hearted amiga. I have had the honor to be in a personal and private setting with Daisy, we have laughed and even cried in the same room but my ultimate favorite memory with Daisy was experienced this weekend as I got to cook for her, I got to see her enjoying my food and after that we spent some time like no other, a night of girl bonding, talking, dancing, and singing along to Bruno Mars tunes. I was overjoyed and thinking it cannot get any better than this, but it actually can as Daisy herself suggested a great idea for her and Latinas Unidas, but I can’t give you any preview.

As much as I enjoyed the weekend with her I also have some regrets as I still don’t understand why I can’t tell her how much I love her beyond meeting her through Latinas Unidas … I just feel dumbfounded almost like starstruck with her and can’t get my words out. As I interviewed her, I got teary-eyed, I just don’t get it! But she comforted me by saying we are friends and that she trusted me and that right there helped me put any reservations aside and I can’t wait to build a relationship with her for years to come. Gracias Daisy!

So now let me tell you all about my weekend in her company through pictures.

It all started as I was offered the opportunity to cook for a fundraising event where Daisy was going to be. See me below, super excited and nervous at the same time as I cooked a Latin inspired hors d’ oeuvres menu for 35 people.

Cooking for Chef Daisy Martinez

Look at the below gorgeous set up which I prepared with the help of a great team of friends and even kids of my friends in order to have everything ready for this event. The menu consisted of 8 different kinds of finger food and I will tell you all about it in the next Lunes Latino post.

Cooking for Chef Daisy Martinez

Here is Daisy going around the buffet table. The highlight for me was that I got to walk with her and explain each item and what they consisted of.

Cooking for Chef Daisy Martinez

Below is the Latinas Unidas Board of Directors with our amazing amiga Daisy Martinez.

Latinas Unidas Board of Directors with Chef Daisy Martinez

We mean business when it comes to supporting our community but we also know how to have a good time as you can see us below being silly with the live of the party: Chef Daisy Martinez.

Latinas Unidas Board of Directors with Chef Daisy Martinez

After the fundraiser, we head out to a private dinner where Chef Daisy got to give us a quick 101 on wine tasting. She recently graduated from an intensive Sommelier class from the French Culinary Institute and we wanted to hear more about what she learned.

Wine Tasting with Chef Daisy Martinez

After dinner, lots of stories and laughs, we got to dance the night away with tunes from her very own iphone music collection. So I got to learn that she is a fan of Bruno Mars like me. That was just awesome! As you can see, the picture is blurry but not that night, I remember every minute of it and will cherish it forever.

Dancing with Chef Daisy Martinez

The next day, Daisy was the guest judge at Rochester’s East High Iron Chef competition, so I got to see her in action as she carefully watched the students, asked them questions, provided feedback and words of encouragement.

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And to conclude this post,  see how even Little L has a history of meeting Chef Daisy Martinez and I can’t wait till we take our next annual picture. I feel so blessed! Gracias mil Chef Daisy! – stay tuned to a next post with an interview where she tells us about her upcoming project.

Meeting Chef Daisy Martinez

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