To watch “Daisy Cooks!” on PBS and “¡Viva Daisy!” on the Food Network is to know the real Daisy Martinez; a sassy, personable, down-to-earth, and humble Latina who has pleasant conversations, using side-splitting humor.
Martinez is like any woman’s best friend. Defining herself as a mother first and foremost and then as a chef, she has quickly become a household name among foodies.
Martinez can be seen in person at the Celebrity Chef Series: Daisy Martinez and Ingrid Hoffman, hosted by Lorena Garcia. The culinary event will take place Oct. 16 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County.
Martinez and Hoffman will be there to answer questions and prepare samples of their delightful cuisine.
“I like to say that I went to the French Culinary Institute to learn classical techniques,” said Martinez, who is a calculus class away from having a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Long Island University. “But initially, I graduated from the Valentina and Conchita Martinez Culinary Academy.”
Learning the culinary techniques from her mother and grandmother, Martinez was content to be a mother to her four children with her husband, Dr. Jerry Lombardo.
On her 40th birthday, Dr. Lombardo surprised her with matriculation into the French Culinary Institute in New York City, from which she graduated in 1998. From there, she went on to work with Lidia Bastianich as a kitchen assistant for “Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen.”
One week into shooting, the show’s producer approached her. The two talked for a little while, and Martinez mentioned her passion for Latin cuisine. After a pregnant pause, the producer offered Martinez her very own show.
“I feel comfortable being in front of a camera. But I’m passionate about cooking in front of a camera,” said Martinez, grateful and humbled by her God-given opportunity.
She jumped at the offer, and “Daisy Cooks!” was born.
“This is food that I make for my family,” the celebrity chef said about her TV shows during a phone interview with the South Florida Times. “This is food that I have an emotional connection to and emotional memories of.”
Every dish she prepares has a special anecdote or story attached to it. Through her travels abroad, she picks up recipes all over the world, and cooks them for her family and her viewers.
Martinez isn’t just a celebrity chef, however. She also writes for the Boriqua Blog, owns a catering company called
The Passionate Palate, wrote Daisy Cooks! Latin Flavors That Will Rock Your World (a cookbook), was a private chef for a high-profile New York City family, writes a column for Every Day with Rachel Ray magazine and Selecciones
The Brooklyn, NY native and resident, keeps a full schedule of activities, which she keeps organized with a small notepad and a calendar that she carries with her at all times.
“My signature dish would probably be my Puerto Rican roast pork and rice and pigeon peas. I think that is the heart and soul of every Puerto Rican,” Martinez said. “I have Jewish friends who eat pork once a year on Christmas Eve at my house. They are Jewish the rest of the year and on Christmas Eve, they’re Jew…ish.”
Martinez said she also likes to make tierrita dulce (or sweet dirt) with her daughter. Tierrita dulce is made up of a chocolate mousse, espresso powder, ground coffee, Puerto Rican rum, egg yolks, sugar, egg whites, and heavy whipping cream.
The ingredients are placed into little flower pots. Crumbled chocolate wafer cookies (crushed Oreo Crisps chocolate cookies will do) are placed on the bottom to resemble soil. The dish is garnished with a flower. It may sound odd, but the dish is such a favorite among her children that Martinez can actually bribe them with it.
She likes to keep things real, and promote the wonderful art of Latin cuisine, which she learned at an early age when her mother would take care to blow on hot food before allowing her to taste it. To Martinez, that was her first memory of love, and part of what inspired her to cook.
“Latin food is one of the most exciting new things that you will try,” Martinez said. “The wonderful thing about Latin food is that it’s funny and sassy, but not necessarily spicy. It’s ethnic, but not alien. And, I’m here to show you how to prepare it.”
Buen provecho (Bon appétit).
For more information on Daisy Martinez and her recipes, check out her Web site: www.daisymartinez.com.
magazine, and serves on various charitable organizations supporting the Latin community.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Celebrity Chef Series: Daisy Martinez and Ingrid Hoffman
WHERE: Knight Concert Hall at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami
COST: $25 to $200; Parking $15 to $20
CONTACT: 305-949-6722 or www.arshtcenter.org