#mitúWORLD

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.

272842_177898105610777_7298399_o
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.

o
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.

laura-martinez

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.

272943_177900118943909_60463_o
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.

964567_510551305678787_1199608057_o
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.

11813272_1469017393399109_7628674126645294957_n
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.

1002787_510557945678123_1220693505_n
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.

Tartizza
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.

380989_242280239172563_1286643213_n
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.

1780236_839128149487766_6593437884345570477_o
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.

11035974_1426882190945963_166244581678302585_n
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. 

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Chicago’s Mi Tocaya Is Offering Up Free Mexican Homemeals For Undocumented Community

Culture

Chicago’s Mi Tocaya Is Offering Up Free Mexican Homemeals For Undocumented Community

mitocaya / Instagram

Undocumented communities are being left out of Covid relief plans. Chef Diana Dávila of Mi Tocaya in Chicago is working to help undocumented restaurant worker in the time of Covid. Abuse of undocumented workers is rampant in certain industries and Chef Dávila hopes to offer some kind of help.

Mi Tocaya is a Mexican restaurant in Chicago’s Logan Square that wants to help the community.

Covid-19 has devastated the hospitality industry with restaurants being hit exceptionally hard. Restaurants have been forced to close their doors for good as the virus dragged on with no decent relief plan from the federal government. As several countries financially support citizens to avoid economic disaster, the U.S. government has given citizens $1,800 total to cover 10 months of isolating and business closures.

Namely, Mi Tocaya is working to help the undocumented community.

Mi Tocaya, a family-run restaurant, is teaming up with Chicago’s Top Chefs and local non-profits Dishroulette Kitchen and Logan Square Neighborhood Association. The goal is to highlight the issues facing the undocumented community during the pandemic.

The initiative called Todos Ponen, is all about uplifting members of our community in a time of severe need. The restaurant is creating healthy Mexican family meals for those in need.

”We asked ourselves; How can we keep our doors open, provide a true service to the community, maintain and create jobs, and keep the supply chain intact by supporting local farmers and vendors. This is the answer,” Chef Dávila said in a statement. “I confidently believe The TODOS PONEN Logan Square Project addresses all of the above and can very well be easily implemented in any community. Our goal is to bring awareness to the lack of resources available to the undocumented workforce- the backbone of our industry.”

The initiative starts in February.

Mi Tocaya is offering 1000 free meals for local farmers and undocumented restaurant workers. The meals are available for pickup Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 2800 W Logan Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647. to make this happen, Mi Tocaya also needs your help.

The restaurant has teamed up with two nonprofits to make sure that they can scale their operation to fulfill their commitment. They are also asking for donations to make sure they can do what they can to help undocumented restaurant workers.

According to Eater LA, 8 million restaurant workers have been laid off since the pandemic started. Some restaurants have had to lay off up to 91 percent of their staff because of Covid, about 10 percent of those are undocumented. In the cities, that number is as high as 40 percent of the laid-off restaurant staff are undocumented.

“People don’t want to talk about the undocumented workforce, but they’re part of our daily routine in most restaurants,” Jackson Flores, who manages the operations of Mi Tocaya, said in a statement. “They are in the toughest position in the whole economy because they’re an invisible part of it. Restaurant worker advocacy groups have added the creation of relief funds to their agendas, but there have yet to be long-term changes in protections for undocumented workers. Without access to unemployment benefits and other government resources, this group is especially vulnerable.”

READ: Hands-Free Cholula Dispensers Have Become a Thing In Restaurants Because of COVID-19

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Argentine Chef Narda Lepes Named Best Female Chef In Latin America

Fierce

Argentine Chef Narda Lepes Named Best Female Chef In Latin America

JUAN MABROMATA / AFP via Getty Images

Narda Lepes is a strong advocate for returning our diets to health produce. It is all about plant-based, vegetable-focused dishes and that is what led her to a coveted recognition.

Argentine chef Narda Lepes has been named the best female chef in Latin America.

Lepes was named the best female chef in Latin America by a panel of critics who create the list of the 50 best restaurants in the world each year. After a year of lockdowns, a pandemic, and governments coming to a halt, the news is a welcomed bit of good news.

“In a year where everything is so intense and so strange, and requires so much from each of us and strains us emotionally, I take this recognition as a boost for my career,” Lepes told the AFP news agency.

Lepes uses her voice and presence in the food scene to promote healthy and plant-based eating.

Lepes and Microsoft partnered to create the Comé + Plantas app to give people a chance to explore healthier eating. The app is available in the Apple Store and the Google Play store. The app is connecting users with vegetables virtually and teaching them how to make the most of their fresh produce.

Lepes is most famously known for her successful restaurant in Buenos Aires.

Narda Comedor broke into the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list last year. The restaurant focuses on the principle of eating seasonal vegetables while trying new things. This is Lepes’ own philosophy when it comes to food and life. The restaurant was opened in 2017 and has become a staple of the Buenos Aires food scene.

Lepes wants everyone to do one thing: think about the produce we eat.

Lepes wants the world to embrace a more plant-based lifestyle. In that same effort, Lepes wants us to take a moment to think about what we are eating and where it is coming from.

“I like having the opportunity to say this in a more amplified way: we have to pay attention to what we eat and rethink how we produce it,” Lepes told the AFP. “The recognition from my peers, in a situation like this, like the one we’re living in, is wonderful.”

She added: “We need to understand where it comes from, how it is grown, how it gets to us and to incorporate variety. We have to eat more vegetables.”

READ: A Mexican Chef Makes History As The First Mexican Woman To Win A Michelin Star

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com