Born in Chicago, IL and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, I grew up in a traditional, middle-class Venezuelan home with my parents, two sisters, and a large extended family. Some of my earliest memories revolve around cooking with my mother and preparing meals that brought everyone together. Even as a child, I loved to be given duties in the kitchen and learned family recipes from both my mother and Mamaita (my grandmother).
While still in college, I decided to move back to the United States to continue my higher education, as financial hardship and political tumult was heavily affecting my ability to stay in school. Learning a new language and adapting to a new culture was not easy, but it was a sacrifice that I hoped would later allow me to provide for my mother. On my own and away from family, I paid my way through school and received a Bachelor’s degree in architecture at the Southern California Institute of Architecture as well as a Master’s degree in Urban Planning at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
I chose the same career path as my father and strived to build an impressive professional resume in real estate and land development, but a suffering economy and weak real estate market had made it hard for professionals in the field to keep their jobs. There were trying times, but I focused on new and exciting opportunities. I was able to expand my horizons while working in the kitchen; continuing to learn, experimenting with new ingredients, and immersing myself in the culinary world.
Growing up in the melting pot of Venezuela and being exposed to so many new cultures since moving to the United States really influenced my interest in Globalization—and I have examined this concept from many angles, from the drafting table to the kitchen counter. I share some of my creations on my healthy recipe journal, “Cook Global. Eat at Home!” where I explore and interpret the concept of Global Cuisine and encourage readers to “travel the world” from their kitchens using fresh, natural ingredients.
My background in land development and focus on sustainability continues to impact my views on environmental-friendly farming practices and my desire to use wholesome, organic products. My own struggles with weight problems and family health history motivate me to cook figure-friendly, health-conscious meals that are packed with flavor and nutritional value. I enjoy making unique dishes from all over the world that are delicious, nourishing, and beautiful!
Recently, I had the opportunity to be on FOX’s popular reality TV show “MasterChef” where I had to compete and present my dishes to Judges Chef Gordon Ramsay, Chef Graham Elliot, and Joe Bastianich. From well over thirty thousand auditions all over the country, 100 people were brought to Los Angeles to compete for the title of MasterChef; and I was one of the lucky ones. Week after week I cooked on the show and put my heart into every dish, working hard and staying true to myself. I was very lucky to be part of the Top 10; this was an incredible adventure where I gained very valuable experience, learned a lot, met incredible people and made extraordinary relationships. I am proud to be part of the MasterChef family!
To pursue my culinary dream, I am working on various projects that include writing a book and developing my own private chef business in Los Angeles. I have had the opportunity to switch careers, to use my passion for cooking, and to become a dedicated chef, respectful of the art.
I am involved in many charity projects, doing cooking demonstrations and working in special events. I teach complimentary cooking classes to children, youth, and women of all ages in different community centers. I am a “Sisters on the Planet” Ambassador for Oxfam America; I believe it is my responsibility to help find an effective plan to end world hunger and to develop better, more sustainable farming and food systems in underprivileged communities.
In this new career, I also have had the opportunity to participate in high profile culinary festivals such as “Taste of Chicago”, the world’s largest, as well as food and wine festivals in Washington, D.C., Palm Desert, etc. I have had the opportunity to learn directly from renowned chefs like Mary Sue Milliken from Border Grill and acclaimed Ricardo Zarate of Picca and Mo-Chica (Food & Wine Magazine’s 2010 Best Chef).
I reside in Marina del Rey, CA where I live happily with my husband David. My blood relatives, including my mother and sisters, still live in Venezuela and I visit as often as I can. I am very fortunate to count with the support of my family and a close network of friends in Los Angeles.
I am lucky girl and sometimes I simply feel that this is a dream….