Culture

This Blind Latina Didn’t Just Become a Chef, She Also Opened Her Own Restaurant in Chicago

Laura Martinez is not your typical chef. She is blind.

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Credit: Laura Martinez / Facebook

When Martinez was a baby, doctors discovered cancer in eye. It led to vision loss, and, eventually, the removal of one eye. She was only a year old.

During college, she began to miss her mother’s homemade meals. So she began to explore cooking.

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Credit: Araceli R. / Yelp

The university cafeteria’s bland food had no appeal to Martinez. She then started to use her sense of smell and taste to explore foods and create her own dishes. She soon abandoned her degree in psychology and moved to Chicago to attend the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.

How does Martinez deal with using knives? She says she has plenty of experience.

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Photo Credit: Laura Martinez / Facebook

“I always loved knives. In fact, when I was a child, they were my favorite toy,” Martinez told NPR.

In 2010, Martinez was hired by a renowned Chicago chef, Charlie Trotter.

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Credit: Laura Martinez / Facebook

Soon after graduation, Martinez secured a job with Chef Charlie Trotter. His restaurant, Charlie Trotter’s, was a mainstay in Chicago in the ’80s and ’90s. In 2013, Trotter died of a stroke.  Martinez had no job leads after Trotter’s death.

Martinez spent the next two years working on a new goal: opening her own restaurant.

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Credit: Laura Martinez / Facebook

With the help of her husband, Maurilio Ortega, and her mother, Josephina, Martinez worked tirelessly to achieve her dream.

READ: These Latin American Dishes Aren’t as “Latino” as You Thought

Earlier this year, her dream came true. She opened La Diosa restaurant in Chicago.

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Credit: La Diosa / Facebook

Martinez hosted a soft opening in January inviting media, friends and family. La Diosa is Spanish for “Goddess.”

Martinez got to showcase her culinary skills.

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Credit: Laura Martinez / Facebook

Despite not having sight, Martinez’s dishes are beautifully crafted. Martinez is building her brand on a fusion of Mexican and French cuisine.

She’s even created her own signature dish.

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Credit: La Diosa / Facebook

Looks like a pizza, right? Almost.

“I call it tartizza because it’s kind of between a tart and pizza, but the dough is delicate and light, but flaky at the same time,” Martinez told NPR.

Martinez’s story has become a beacon of hope for the blind community.

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Credit: Laura Martinez / Facebook

“I don’t think there’s another blind restaurateur who’s opened their own restaurant in the country. I think it’s a feather in the cap of Illinois and Chicago to have her,” her adviser Andrew Fogaty told DNAInfo.

READ: What Would Mama Cook? How to Prepare Classic Latino Dishes

Martinez has used her story to encourage youths to follow their dreams.

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Credit: Laura Martinez / Facebook

Martinez has spoken for The Maryland School for the Blind, the National Federation of the Blind, and numerous small engagements for other blind organizations around the country.

But, Martinez wants diners to remember one thing: her cooking.

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Credit: La Diosa / Facebook

Martinez may be the first blind chef to open a restaurant in the US, but she wants people to remember her food.

“Now that I’m known for being the blind chef, I want people to look beyond that,” Martinez told NPR. ? ?

Are you inspired by Laura Martinez’s story? Don’t forget to share on Facebook and Twitter. 

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AOC’s Quote About Being The Only Daughter In A Latino Household Is Getting Latinas Fired Up

Fierce

AOC’s Quote About Being The Only Daughter In A Latino Household Is Getting Latinas Fired Up

Brittany Greeson / Getty

As young Latinos, there’s no denying the fact that learning to fold our family culture into the customs we acquire as Americans can shape our abilities to handle pressure. In the process of assimilation, we learn how to meet the demands of our parents and our peers all the while juggling the everyday expectations we shoulder while in school.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez knows all about managing these expectations. Last year, while addressing the media’s desire to see her pursue her career and fulfill societal expectations of her personal life (AKA get married) the politician reminded her followers that she can handle pressure because she grew up in a Latino household.

To boot, she was the only daughter in her home.

But what about the rest of us?

Those of us who maybe aren’t quite yet thriving politicians but manage to succeed in our everyday lives and do it all? We asked Latinas on FIERCE about how they’re able to relate to AOC’s comments and the responses were not only enlightening but a good reminder of Latina strength.

“And the oldest for that matter!! You not only learn to be tough, but also to be resourceful and amazingly great at delegating.” – emramirez1

“So true ughh the oldest child the only female and the first American born and the first to go to college oyeeeee the PRESSURE #mujerfuerte AINT NO ONE CAN TAKE ME DOWN lol por que our familia made us strong!” –paulinacastrellon

“Or the OLDEST daughter.” –m0zz_

“And be a food server for many years…” –kimoti_87

“Only daughter and only child! Thats some other level of #latinohousehold.” –wellnessparalamama

“Or a daughter in a Latino household with a strict father period!” –elliev03

“Look i went through allot and none of it made me stronger im a very shaky person theres a difference between trauma and tough love , i think she had tough love trauama fucks u up.” –__head___in___the____clouds__

“Oldest daughter, of 3 girls! You are the example!” – _cynnrenee

“I only wish the means to becoming tough and handle pressure for a Latina daughter didn’t root in traumatic machismo (male chauvinism) and systematic inequalities experiences. Surely there are ways to learn to have an affirmative tone and handle pressure without the trauma.” – marimukkii

“Or just being in a Latina household, period.” –mar_knut

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Family Sets Up GoFundMe To Help Paletero In Chicago Retire

Things That Matter

Family Sets Up GoFundMe To Help Paletero In Chicago Retire

Michaelangelo Mosqueda / GoFundMe

Every now and then there is a video or some news that bubbles up through the noise that makes you feel good. There’s another one of those stories coming out of Chicago thanks to a family helping a local paletero.

A viral video shows a family buying a paletero’s entire cooler of paletas.

The family wanted to help the paletero finish his work for the day because it was Father’s Day. After buying him out, the family decided to go one further for the older mand and set up a GoFundMe to help him retire for the life of selling paletas. Don Rosario, the paletero in the video, is 70 years old and is a staple of the East Side community in Chicago.

A GoFundMe for his retirement is raising a lot of money to help him out.

Selling paletas is exhausting work. Walking around all day long in the heat while trying to sell paletas is a demanding job. This family is taking it on themselves to help Rosario finally retire from the work so he can rest and enjoy his golden years.

There was so much love for Rosario that the fundraiser had to be closed and then reopened.

The family who set up the GoFundMe closed the fundraiser at one point, according to an update. This is because they were waiting to get his contact info and the fundraiser has exploded to more than $40,000. Then, after getting the info and enough interest to keep donating, the fundraiser was reopened. If you want to add to Rosario’s growing pot, you can click here.

The act of kindness that started on Father’s Day is still going and giving people hope.

These are dark times. We are still battling a virus. The U.S. is being forced to finally confront centuries of racial inequality. There are so many things happening that can make us mad. However, stories like these remind us that there is still so much good happening out there.

This is a ray of light in a world that is often so confusing right now.

“We’ve been left speechless, there were people from all over the states donating,” Michaelangelo Mosqueda, the GoFundMe creator, told Block Club Chicago. “It has been really eye-opening to see that when we all come together we do some great things for others.”

READ: Starbucks Barista Who Told A Karen To Wear A Mask Receives More Than $49k In Tips

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