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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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Neighbors Raised $60k to Keep this Mariachi Band Family From Being Evicted During the Pandemic

Things That Matter

Neighbors Raised $60k to Keep this Mariachi Band Family From Being Evicted During the Pandemic

Photo via Cielito Lindo Family Folk Music/Facebook

While the pandemic has negatively impacted a lot of Americans, those who derived their income from in-person industries like food, hospitality, and live entertainment, have been hit the hardest.

Once COVID-19 shut the country down, many household were forced to scramble to make ends meet. And while the government offered some assistance, for many it wasn’t enough.

This predicament was exactly what the Chicago family, the Luceros, were going through.

The Luceros are a Chicago-based Mexican-American family who moonlight as the mariachi band, Cielito Lindo. Around Chicago, the Lucero family was known for their astonishing musical abilities.

Juan and Susie Lucero are parents to a talented team of seven children, all of whom play different musical instruments and have breathtaking singing voices. Diego, Miguel, Antonio, Carlos, Lilia, Maya, and Mateo all have different roles within the band, while Juan is the bandleader.

Before the pandemic, the Lucero family derived the majority of their income from their live performances. They would cover classic favorites like “El Rey” as well as doing mariachi-twists on modern pop hits like Cardi B’s “I Like it Like That”.

But when COVID-19 hit in March of 2020, the Lucero family was no longer allowed to play live events.

All of their performances were canceled. Even their long-standing weekly gig at a local restaurant disappeared. Their income dropped by 40%.

While the Luceros tried to cut corners and make small changes, the reality was, they couldn’t keep up with their bills. By the time Christmas rolled around, they were $18,000 behind on rent. They got an eviction notice.

The family had heard that the government had launched a rent-assistance program, but they couldn’t find many details on how to apply. They were completely lost.

Desperate for help, Juan Lucero reached out to his Facebook friends, asking them if they knew how to apply for government assistance.

But what he got in return was something even better. Their community decided to step up and take action.

“A few of us talked and said, ‘We can’t let them be evicted from their home. There’s just no way,'” their neighbor, Robert Farster, recently told CBS This Morning.

Farster ended up creating a GoFundMe page for the Lucero family. “Our good friends, the Luceros, need help,” he wrote. “Juan, Susy and their seven kids are too proud to ask for it, so as their friends, we’re stepping in.”

Within days, Farster had raised over $60,000, veritably saving the Luceros from eviction.

“It’s like a miracle. We didn’t expect that,” Juan Lucero told This Morning. “It feels like a big warm hug from many people.”

Juan’s wife, Susy Lucreo felt the same way. Despite these divisive times, she felt tons of love and support from her community.

“We feel very much loved and accepted as a Mexican-American family with roots in Guadalajara,” she told This Morning. “And we come together to share that combination of culture, which really is what America is all about–this big melting pot.

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JLo Celebrates 20 Years Of “Love Don’t Cost A Thing” By Perfectly Recreating The Iconic Music Video

Entertainment

JLo Celebrates 20 Years Of “Love Don’t Cost A Thing” By Perfectly Recreating The Iconic Music Video

It’s been twenty (20!) years since Jennifer Lopez’s iconic album J.Lo debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. Since then, a lot has happened for the “Let’s Get Loud” international pop icon, not to mention the world.

But to help us all take a stroll down memory lane, J Lo recreated the music video for “Love Don’t Cost A Thing” and it’s honestly perfection. And perhaps kinda strange, since honestly, Lopez doesn’t look any different!

Jennifer Lopez celebrates the 20th anniversary of her album J.Lo in the best way possible.

JLo took us back over the weekend, all the way back to 2001, in honor of her second album J.Lo, which just celebrated its 20th anniversary. The singer re-created a moment from the “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” music video to celebrate the last two decades.

J.Lo specifically re-created the scenes on the beach where she discards her possessions and most of her clothes. This time around, she even threw her bracelet into the sand. And while she stopped short of replicating the original video’s ending in which she took her shirt off while walking into the sea, J.Lo ended her micro-update of the clip with a fake-out nodding to that original ending.

“As I reflect on the fact that it’s the #JLo20thAnniversary, I just wanted to say thank you to all of you for being with me, loving me and supporting me through all the ups and downs,” Lopez captioned a second post. “Thank you so much for all the love over the past 20 years!! I love you so much!!”

It’s obvious that JLo herself knows just how iconic the song is – which is why, in another Instagram post she ended her caption with the hashtag #MyLoveDontCostAThing.

And, in case you were wondering, this is the original video from 2001.

The original music video was also a work of heart that did justice to the now and forever iconic song.

Her new take on the classic video has also spurred the #LoveDontCostAThingChallenge on social media.

While some tried their best to meet J Lo’s challenge, others pointed out that this must be a rich person’s challenge. I mean, not many of us are going to be ripping off our non-existent diamond jewelery and throwing it into the ocean or sand.

Lopez has a big year ahead of her and we can’t wait to follow along.

It’s been twenty years since J.Lo hit the charts so obviously a lot has happened for the pop star. Most recently, she performed “This Land Is Your Land” at the 2021 presidential inauguration. But she’s just getting started. This year, we can expect so much more, including a new rom-com called Marry Me with Maluma coming out on Valentine’s Day 2021.

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