Celebrity Chef Lorena Garcia Talks About Her Passions and Representing Latin Culture


LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Latinos are an integral part of our community: business owners, workers, families, 700,000 people in Clark County.

But some contribute in multiple ways. We introduce you to a leader, spokesperson, entertainer and mother making her mark in Las Vegas and beyond.

13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears has been involved in the local culinary scene for years. She takes us inside The Venetian for an intimate conversation with Chef Lorena Garcia.

LOVE OF COOKING

When meeting celebrity chef Lorena Garcia for the first time, you are immediately drawn to her contagious smile and energy.

“I like to play with all the senses,” says Garcia.

His restaurant, Chica at the Venetian Las Vegas, is a celebration of Latin flavors that you can also experience in Miami and Aspen.

“You sit on the table and you see this beautiful, amazing, flavorful cuisine that speaks to you. Not just your palate, but your senses, your eyes,” says Garcia.

Her love for cooking appeared at an early age.

“I was six years old and I was having a picnic in the middle of the living room and making arepas… Arepas are the delicious little corn biscuits that come with our meals. It’s almost like our bread, right? Our tortilla,” says García.

Garcia knows that work in the food industry is never done and that change is part of the game.

It’s about experimenting and creating new recipes and experiences for everyone who sits down to eat. That means not only representing his native Venezuela, but all of Latin America.

“Peruvian cuisine which is so rich, amazing and as important as Mexican cuisine. Venezuelan, of course, because I was born in Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina. You have such a beautiful representation and influences from all these countries,” says García.

Garcia says it all starts with people; cooks, servers and managers, working together to make magic for everyone who visits Chica. And she’s proud to say that Latinos aren’t just important to her business, but to the industry as a whole.

“In all aspects of dining, the Latin community, I think that’s the one, is the backbone. You can go to a Japanese restaurant and see a Latin chef preparing food,” Garcia says.

As a Latina, she thinks it’s important to give back.

“I feel very motivated to continue creating opportunities and paving the way for more female chefs to take on leadership roles in the kitchen and in the restaurant as a whole,” says Garcia.

PASSIONATE PROJECTS

Garcia is the official ambassador for No Kid Hungry, working to end child hunger in America.

She also created her own program, Big Chef Little Chef, teaching children and parents the importance of healthy eating. As a mother, Garcia believes teaching children to cook is the best path to a healthy lifestyle.

“So when they grow up, they know how to eat. They know where the ingredients come from, and they know how to take control of their nutrition that goes beyond what they eat. It reflects self-esteem. It reflects how, their productivity. There’s so much involved in nutrition,” says Garcia.

In everything she does, from national cooking shows and books to her restaurants, Garcia says it always comes down to being true to herself.

“The dish itself is going to tell you so much of the story of not just where I’m from or where I’ve been, but also the memories and the relationship you nurture on the table,” Garcia says.

At the same time, she still feels responsible for reflecting her heritage and representing the Latino community.

“It’s about respecting the culture, it’s about understanding that we are so much more. There is a word in Spanish called toderos. We are toderos. We do everything. We specialize in filling white people and when we’re asked to do a task, we’re there to do it. You know, we don’t make excuses. We just prepare and do it. We’re doers,” says Garcia.


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