Daisy Martinez | Chefs | PBS Food

Daisy Martinez

Daisy Martinez | courtesy of A La Carte Communications
Daisy Martinez was born to mainland Puerto Rican parents in Brooklyn, New York, where she lived at her grandmother's house until she was almost five years old. Her extended family includes relatives from Central America, Spain, and other parts of the Spanish-speaking world. Growing up in the household of her "abuela" inspired Daisy, even as a young girl, to the joys that could be unraveled in the kitchen. Between her grandmother, Valentina, and her mother, Conchita, Daisy learned firsthand how the kitchen is-easily-the happiest room in the household. Those days were filled with love, family, and delicious food, three things that, for Daisy, are intimately entwined.

Before committing herself to the art of cooking, Daisy took pleasure in other arts, including acting and modeling. When Spain decided to compete with Italy in the American shoe market, Daisy became the "Martinez Valero" Girl (no relation!). After her legs and feet tired of being photographed, on a dare, she began acting: American commercials include Ford cars and Newport cigarettes, and Spanish-language commercials include McDonald's and AT&T. Daisy has also appeared in numerous movies including "Carlito's Way" and "Scent of a Woman".

While attending Long Island University, Daisy met and married her husband, Jerry, and dedicated herself to raising and nurturing her family; and, of course, entertaining played a large part in their lives. In 1998 Daisy matriculated at the French Culinary Institute, where she won first prize for her final project, "The Passionate Palate." Shortly after graduation she began working with A La Carte Communications as a prep-kitchen chef on the Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen television series, and during the same period she worked for three years as a private chef in New York City. In addition, Daisy manages a small catering business, "The Passionate Palate", named for her cooking school days and, more importantly, her great enthusiasm for food. She shares her passion for food with her numerous friends and relatives in the Hispanic community. From them, she has learned to love and cook delicious food from across the broad spectrum of Latin cuisine.

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