For Chef Ben Diaz, chasing his culinary dreams may have never happened if he wasn’t chasing someone else. “It’s actually a funny story. I wanted to be a pharmacist but I was young and dumb and I had a crush on this girl and she was going to culinary school and I thought I’ll go too. Long story short, fast forward 17 years and here I am,” said Diaz.
In case you’re wondering, that relationship didn’t workout but fortunately for all of us the cooking career did. “Everyone wants to know if I ended up dating her but I didn’t. But I’m so glad she got me to go to culinary school,” said Diaz with a laugh.
Chef Ben graduated from the California School of Culinary Arts. He will be one of the amazing chefs participating in the Latin Food Fest 2018.
Diaz says the best part is meeting so many great food minds. “It’s amazing to a part of such an amazing event. It’s much more than just burritos and tacos. You have people from Venezuela, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Chile’ and Paraguay. You have so much different talent out there. It’s always great to see these amazing chefs and to see what they come up with,” said Diaz.
The Latin Food Fest is heading into its sixth year and looks better than ever in 2018. Chef Diaz has been a part of every single one and plans on always being a part of the festivities. “It’s just an incredible event and I can’t believe I’ve been a part of it for so many years. I hope we see a lot of people out there this year. It’s a great way to learn from the best Latin chefs in the world,” said Diaz.
Diaz is currently the Executive Chef at the Luxe City Center Hotel in downtown Los Angeles where he oversees culinary operations for the Nixo Patio Lounge and Stafford + Mathis restaurants. Diaz also runs his own consulting company called CBD Cuisine that helps restaurants perfect their menu and business models. “It’s a non-stop environment. I’m constantly on the go.” says Diaz.
Ben has also developed his own spice line called Epices de la Vie that includes gourmet spices and custom blend salts. “We’ve created an amazing blend that you need to check out,” says Diaz.
Chef Diaz is a blend himself. His Mexican and Guatemalan heritage has had an incredible influence on the way he cooks. “I do a lot of different blends with spices, fried chilies-I use a lot of ingredients you don’t see in more practical cuisine and I blend that with my classical French cuisine training. Those small influences can change the whole dish,” says Diaz.
Chef Diaz says he has some advice for people who want to get into the culinary industry. ” You can’t be afraid to be different. Be a trendsetter. Be something unique and someone you love,” says Diaz.
One things for sure is you’re going to love meeting Chef Ben Diaz at this year’s Latin Food Fest!
Recipe Roundup Weekly Newsletter
Signup to receive our new recipes every week. Every Monday we send out last week’s newly published recipes. Never miss a recipe from Hispanic Food Network.