Doña Vale

On July 17th, I celebrated 39 years of making and selling Memelas at my stand, so it’s gone very well. When I decided to be a single mother and choose this path, I was criticized by everybody. Some tried to spoil my dream, but my tenacity is my strength and it gave me the courage to push forward.

I am from a pueblo called San Mateo Rio Hondo in Oaxaca. Growing up on a farm has left its mark on me forever. I can’t see another way of cooking than from scratch and understanding the cycle of food. That is why the only place I felt comfortable when I arrived in the city was in the Central de Abastos, as close to the ingredients as I could get.

Before the Street Food show on Netflix, I was published in other culinary books, and chefs from all over the world have come to taste my food and record me for their social media. Outsiders are surprised by how we do things here, but around the plaza, nobody is. All this attention not only brings people to my business but others too. I don’t think people often see the value, but we all keep our heads down and do what we do: cook good food daily!

I believe that after my time is up, my daughter may choose to take up the mantle. Initially, I wanted her to choose her own path because challenges make you grow. Now she is here with me learning every day, but in the end, it will be her choice.

Today, people usually talk about comida callejera (street food) in a demeaning way, but I think it’s excellent. I make comida callejera. It’s delicious, original, and the tradition of every state. Just because it’s called comida callejera doesn’t mean it’s less than anything. We cook what's most original because we love it!

Luz Maria

My name is Luz Maria.

I’m from Puebla, and I’ve been selling tamales with my food cart for 40 years. Here, the specialty of the tamales is red chilies, tomatoes, con rajas, and cheese. The one with salsa verde has tomato, chilis, and chicken.

It hasn’t always been easy. I’ve encountered many problems over the years, mainly facing the prospect of being kicked out of my spot by the government. I stay while they let me. Right now, if they decide to kick me out, I go. I always obey and look for another place to go.

I raised my kids by selling tamales since they’ve been in school, and now they’re independent. What keeps me here working hard every day is my husband. He’s sick and getting dialysis. He is my primary motivator. Some insist on giving me money when I tell them my situation, but I don’t believe in such a thing as free money. I always work for it, and I always offer my tamales in exchange!


I’ve been surrounded by pizza from birth. My family is from Napoli, so naturally, pizza is part of our culture and legacy.

Since I was 5, I’ve known I wanted to become a pizzaiolo, someone whose sole focus is mastering the art of pizza. So at 14, I started working and learning to make Neapolitan pizza. In the beginning, I learned with my family before doing so at different restaurants.

Then one day, my dad’s friend offered me an opportunity I couldn’t refuse: the chance to travel to the USA and work in a Neapolitan pizzeria! I was ready to get out of my comfort zone and gain experience.

One of the things I love most about my new job is that it’s an open kitchen, so I get to see people enjoying and devouring the pizza. And I love that! I love seeing people get their hands dirty and experience the pizza and the dough. It fills me with a sense of pride to see people from other parts of the world enjoy the food we cook back home.

Walking down the alleys with @christianguval 📷 🔥

Halee Raff

My name is Halee Raff, and I was born in Chicago, Illinois.

I never had an interest in cooking growing up. I learned how to cook out of desperation. When I was 16, I was enrolled in a program that withheld food from us, and I would hang out in the kitchen and sneak food. That’s where I found my interest in cooking. I learned how to cook out of desperation and ended up loving it.

Once I turned 18, my parents told me I needed to attend college. I wanted to piss them off, so I told them I wanted to attend culinary school.

I worked in Michelin fine dining for five years. I’ve dealt with much stupid shit but worked under a few great chefs. can’t imagine returning to kitchen life that drains you of your time, energy, and passion. I started my business 2.5 years ago, and now I work 24/7, but I wouldn’t change that.

You have to work for others to understand your learning style. I wouldn’t have been able to open a successful business without watching others succeed and fail.

Some things I’ve learned along the way: If you’re in a bad mood or upset at the world, it will show in your food. Leave your shit outside the kitchen. It will still be there when you’re done. If this is what you want to do, then your bullshit shouldn’t be stopping you. Another thing is your chefs will always tell you they see “great things” in you and will offer you the world “someday.” It’s really just to latch you, so you don’t leave. Fuck them.

You will get paid and treated like shit. You will work when you’re told and expect to perform You will not see your friends or partners. Put your head down, work, and absorb all you can. Don’t let a shitty chef whisper yell at you during service about how much you suck. If this is what you want to do, show in your food.

There are some wonderful chefs out there to learn and look up to.
It’s up to you to decide what you put up with.



I’m Carlos. I’m from Venezuela. When I arrived in the United States, I came to New York first before coming to Miami, and I’ve been here for seven months. I started cooking in Ecuador when I was 16. Cooking is a passion for me. It helps you discover yourself and life. It stimulates the hits from life, you learn, and that keeps me going. I wouldn’t be here without cooking. It kept me alive, filling me with the strength to continue forward.

In the future, I dream of opening my restaurant in Venezuela to conquer my people and show them what I have experienced in the United States through a cultural diversity menu.

The craziest thing that’s happened to me in the kitchen is enjoying it. Along the way, you begin to appreciate what once was private to you.


My name is Alejandro.

I’m originally from Cuba. Before coming to the USA, I had a Visa to Mexico, and from there, I crossed the border into the United States.

In the past, my primary place of work used to be butcher shops, although I worked in some restaurants. I learned to work with chicken, pork, beef, and everything at the butcher shops! I loved when they would bring me a whole animal, and I got the chance to do all the cuts. That’s where my passion lies.

I’m currently working at a restaurant, which is a new world for me. But I have the will to work and learn a lot about it. It brings me joy that I get to integrate everything I learned about meats in my previous jobs into this one.


My name is JC, and I’m from Brazil. I’ve been living in the USA for the past four years. I worked in the kitchen for ten years while I was in Brazil.

I studied gastronomy in Brazil and decided to travel to the USA to look for job opportunities and search for new knowledge. I chose Italian food because it’s a bit different than the cuisine I was used to. Back home, I cooked Brazilian, Chinese, and French food. Here, I found an opportunity to learn something new. I like seafood, the rush, the pans, the cooking pots, and most importantly, the friends you make in the kitchen.