Although blind since she was a baby, Laura Martinez never let that stop her from becoming a chef. Martinez is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu culinary school and in the past has worked with famed chef, Charlie Trotter. Recently, she has opened her own restaurant, La Diosa, in Lincoln Park. The Culture Trip interviewed Martinez to talk about her new restaurant and what inspires her in and out of the kitchen.
TCT: What inspired the name La Diosa for your restaurant?
LM: My faith and the strong belief in God inspired me to named the restaurant La Diosa — (it) is in honor of God.
TCT: What has been the most challenging thing in opening your own restaurant?
LM: The most difficult challenge to overcome about opening the restaurant was finding assistance, grants, and the right space.
TCT: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given as a chef?
LM: The piece of advice I was given when I was in Le Cordon Bleu was to always put your last name up high. In other words, make it honorable not sinful.
TCT: How soon do you check your phone in the morning?
LM: I check my phone in the morning about six times.
TCT: What is your dream project?
LM: My dream project is to open two more restaurants — (one) in Miami and one in Mexico D.F.
TCT: What advice would you give your younger self?
LM: To never give up; don’t use any lazy excuses to go on.
TCT: What’s your pet peeve?
LM: I totally dislike when I hear people brag about themselves.
TCT: What would your last meal on earth be?
LM: My last meal would be very fine and expensive. Since (it) is my last, I want to eat the best.
TCT: If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be?
LM: I would love to have dinner with author Danielle Steel. I enjoy reading her novels.
TCT: What is your favorite restaurant?
LM: My Mother’s House — she makes amazing dishes!
TCT: What is the most memorable moment from your career?
LM: Being able to have the pleasure of working with Chef Charlie Trotter.
TCT: How would you like to be remembered?
LM: I want people to remember me with honor and respect because this is not easy.
TCT: If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing?
LM: A famous surgeon or a psychologist.
TCT: If you opened up a fortune cookie, what would it say?
LM: Get ready for more obstacles and new challenges.
TCT: Tell us something no one knows about you?
LM: I love expensive perfumes.
TCT: What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
LM: The first thing I do in the morning is pray and then drink a huge hot cup of coffee.
TCT: If you could only bring three things to a desert island, what would they be?
LM: Three things I’d bring are a Braille Bible, a knife, a blanket.
TCT: How would you describe your restaurant?
LM: I would described my restaurant as the following: cozy, different and unique, almost like a bistro but not quite. The food is all created by my own inspiration and creations. I decided on the colors, menus and all the furniture. I wanted it to be unusual — not typical from everybody. I want my people to eat rich and fresh food, not frozen and flavorless. We serve breakfast, sandwiches and dinners all day long, so (it) is pretty much like an open menu theme. I say it is contemporary dining, not French or Mexican food either.