Food is the thing that brings people together. Whether or not you agree with someone’s politics or world view, you can usually agree with them on one thing: That food is delicious, and eating delicious food will make all of us happy. And for anyone that’s been living under a rock, you should probably know that Latin food has become increasingly popular in the U.S., whether or not you are Latinx yourself. Whether it’s Cuban food, Mexican food, Peruvian food, and so much more, there are restaurants opening up all across the country that make me proud to be Latina.
And where there’s a great Latin food restaurant, there is a phenomenal Latinx chef behind it. And in fact, some Latinx chefs have more than one while others are actually teaching and spreading our love of Latin food in other ways (such as through the writing of cookbooks or their work on television). From Food Network favorite Aarón Sánchez to PBD darling Pati Jinich, here are the 25 best latinx chefs cooking up and serving great food all across the U.S. Get ready to roll up your sleeves and dig into all of that incredible sabor!
1. José Andrés
CREDIT: PHOTO: chefjoseandres/Instagram
Okay, so José Andrés is technically from Spain and began his career there, but the Spanish-American chef is a great philanthropist (he helped feed hundreds in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria) with restaurants in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Florida, and Puerto Rico. He offers creative small plates dining, and has been known for his humanitarian work long before the Hurricane Maria disaster last year.
2. Maricel Presilla
CREDIT: PHOTO: maricelpresilla7/Instagram
Maricel Presilla has quite the resume: She was the first Latin American woman to be invited as a guest chef at the White House, has a James Beard Foundation Award from 2012, and wrote the amazing book Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America (published in 2013, and also won a Janes Beard Foundation Award). Beyond that, she is the chef and co-owner behind Cucharamama and other restaurants in Hoboken, New Jersey, along with Ultramarinos, her Latin American marketplace, bakery and chocolate shop.
3. Aarón Sánchez
CREDIT: PHOTO: chef_aaronsanchez/Instagram
Aarón Sánchez is an American chef and television personality who can often be seen as a co-star and judge on Food Network’s Chopped, as the host of Cooking Channel’s Taco Trip, and he has appeared on Iron Chef America and as a contestant on The Next Iron Chef. He’s also a judge on Masterchef as of 2017. Oh, and did I mention that he has restaurants all over the U.S., including Johnny Sánchez, which has locations in New Orleans and Baltimore.
4. Lorena Garcia
CREDIT: PHOTO: cheflorena/Instagram
Lorena Garcia is a Venezuelan chef who has several restaurants and is now famous thanks to her multiple television shows and appearances. She’s been on Top Chef Masters, has a cookbook, and a line of kitchenware… She is also seriously making strides in her life to help end the obesity epidemic in the U.S.
5. Jose Garces
CREDIT: PHOTO: chefjosegarces/Instagram
Jose Garces, an Ecuadorian-American chef, is a restaurant owner and is probably best known for being an Iron Chef, an honor he earned in 2009 and debuted in 2010. His restaurants include eight in Philadelphia, including Amada, Rosa Blanca, Volver, and more. He also owns restaurants in Atlantic City, Scottsdale, Arizona, California, and more. He was named Best Chef by James Beard Foundation.
6. Marcela Valladolid
CREDIT: PHOTO: chefmarcela/Instagram
You’ve probably seen Marcela Valladolid’s cookbooks, amazing Instagram, or as one of the co-hosts on Food Network’s The Kitchen (though she left the show in October 2017). She’s worked in many capacities, including as an editor and recipe stylist at Bon Appétit, a judge on Food Network’s Best Baker in America, the CBS reality show The American Baking Competition, and more.
7. Angelo Sosa
CREDIT: PHOTO: chefangelososa/Instagram
The Dominican-Italian chef first made national headlines when he appeared on Top Chef, but his career has gone on to great heights since then. He is currently the owner of Añejo Tequileria in New York City, a restaurant that serves unique tequilas and takes on traditional Mexican food. He also released a cookbook with Angie Martinez titled Healthy Latin Eating: Our Favorite Family Recipes Remixed.
8. Ingrid Hoffmann
CREDIT: PHOTO: ingridhoffmannofficial/Instagram
Ingrid Hoffman is a Colombian-American chef, restauranteur, and television personality who hosts Food Network’s Simply Delicious and the Spanish-language Delicious on Galavisión. She’s also got several cookbooks out on Latin cooking, including Simply Delicioso: A Collection of Everyday Recipes with a Latin Twist.
9. Roberto Santibañez
CREDIT: PHOTO: fondanyc/Instagram
The acclaimed Mexican chef has brought fine Mexican dining to New York City, and the world thanks Roberto Santibañez for this accomplishment. He’s a native of Mexico City but currently owns the Fonda restaurants in Manhattan and Brooklyn. He also has several cookbooks, including Tacos, Tortas and Tamales: Flavors From the Griddles, Pots, and Street-Side Kitchens of Mexico.
10. Pati Jinich
CREDIT: PHOTO: patijinich/Instagram
Pati Jinich, an award-winning Mexican chef, TV personality, and cookbook author, is best known for her James Beard Foundation Award-winning and Emmy-nominated PBS series Pati’s Mexican Table. She has a cookbook by the same name, which was published in 2013, and a follow-up called Mexican Today, which was published in 2016.
11. Enrique Olvera
CREDIT: PHOTO: enriqueolveraf/Instagram
If you’ve ever wanted to eat in one of the world’s best restaurants, then head to Pujol — which stands at Number 20 on the list and is Enrique Olvera’s place in Mexico City. However, he’s a celebrity chef to watch as he sets to open a Pujol-Cosme (one of his other restaurants) hybrid in Los Angeles. Although the menu is still in development, it is sure to be… well, one of the best.
12. Michelle Bernstein
CREDIT: PHOTO: chefmichy/Instagram
The Argentine-American chef from Miami is a master of Latin cooking, and a James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef herself. She has several restaurants in Miami, including Seagrape at the Thompson hotel in Miami Beach. She has also appeared on Iron Chef America and on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown episode on Miami.
13. José Mendín
CREDIT: PHOTO: chefmendin/Instagram
José Mendín of Pubbelly Restaurant group in Miami, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic is a rising star in the culinary world. Although he’s yet to win a James Beard Foundation Award, he was a five-time semifinalist for Best Chef, Southeast. It’s only a matter of time, really.
14. Alejandra Ramos
CREDIT: PHOTO: alwaysalejandra/Instagram
Food and lifestyle expert and television personality Alejandra Ramos is an on-camera host and a Today Show tastemaker who is dedicated to helping people make room for a delicious life. You’ve probably seen her cooking up her delicious, Latin-inspired (and sometimes now) recipes on TV, and we are sure to see more from the Puerto Rican chef.
15. Julian Medina
CREDIT: PHOTO: chefmedinanyc/Instagram
Julian Medina was born in Mexico city and was inspired by his father’s and grandfather’s authentic home cooking to become a chef himself. After training professionally, he eventually opened Toloache, Yerba Buena, and Yerba Buena Perry in New York City. Each restaurant presents refined Mexican cuisine and a Nuevo Latino-inspired take on Latin food.
16. Susie Jimenez
CREDIT: PHOTO: spiceitupsusie/Instagram
Susie Jimenez rose to fame after appearing on Food Network’s 7th season of Next Food Network Star. She is the owner of Spice It Up Catering, hosts several radio and television shows in Aspen, Colorado, and appears regularly as a culinary expert.
17. Ricardo Zarate
CREDIT: PHOTO: ricardomzarate/Instagram
Ricardo Zarate, who was born in Lima, Peru, is known as “the godfather of Peruvian cuisine” and for a good reason. His name is synonymous with indigenous South American cuisine, and he his passion and drive have led him to spread Peruvian cuisine in Los Angeles… to the delight of many.
18. Diana Dávila
CREDIT: PHOTO: dianalachef/Instagram
Chicago-based chef Diana Dávila has served as a chef at several places (including a few in Washington, D.C.) before opening up her own place last year, Mi Tocaya Antojeria. She describes herself as a midwest Mexican, and her cuisine follows. She approaches it with the history of Mexican cuisine with unique touches of her own.
19. Ray Garcia
CREDIT: PHOTO: chefraygarcia/Instagram
Ray Garcia is a Los Angeles-based chef who grew up having a lot of Sunday dinners at his abuela’s house. And, as he puts it, “I didn’t choose food, it chose me.” He learned a restrained technique with a deep respect for the integrity of his ingredients, and used his culinary talents at Broken Spanish and B.S. Taqueria.
20. Daniela Soto-Innes
CREDIT: PHOTO: danielasotoinnes/Instagram
Two years ago, at just 25 years old, Daniela Soto-Innes won the Rising Star Chef of the Year Award from the James Beard Foundation, a huge honor for such a young chef. She was the chef de cuisine at Cosme, a Mexican-inspired restaurant from another person on our list (Enrique Olvera).
21. Hugo Ortega
CREDIT: PHOTO: chef_hugo65/Instagram
Mexican City-bown Hugo Ortega is now the chef and co-owner at some of Houston’s top restaurants: Backstreet Cafe, Hugo’s, Caracol, and Xochi. He is also the recent winner of a James Beard Foundation Award and was a finalist for six consecutive years before that.
22. Chef Lala
CREDIT: PHOTO: chef_lala/Instagram
Think that Latin food can’t be made healthy? Think again! Chef LaLa is a classically trained chef and certified nutritionist who runs her own high-end catering business, SAVOR!, in Los Angeles while also appearing worldwide on national and international television to promote healthy Latin cooking.
23. Omar Flores
CREDIT: PHOTO: chefomarflores/Instagram
Omas Flores has been in the kitchen from a young age, and remembers helping his father cook in their family-run restaurants. Eventually, though, his talents led him to open restaurants in Dallas, Texas. His latest is Whistle Britches, a chicken, biscuit, and beer concept that opened in 2016. He has also been nominated by the James Beard Foundation, as has been his 2013 restaurant Casa Rubia.
24. Terry Hope Romero
CREDIT: PHOTO: terryhope/Instagram
Terry Hope Romero, also known as the Vegan Latina, is here to prove that Latin food can be healthy and delicious — and vegan! You might think that it’s not possible to avoid meat if you’re Latinx, but she has proven that you totally can with her bestselling vegan cookbooks, Viva Vegan!: Authentic Vegan Latin American Recipes, Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook, and more.
25. Jose Enrique
CREDIT: PHOTO: joseenriquepr/Instagram
The Puerto Rican-born chef Jose Enrique has worked in New York, Florida, and Louisiana before returning to his homeland. He opened his first restaurant, Jose Enrique, in 2007 and is known to focus on fresh Puerto Rican produce. He has won many accolades for his cuisine, including being a semifinalist for an award from the 2013 James Beard Foundation.
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