“I’m from Ecuador and have been in New York for 23 years. I started the same way many Latinos do here, from the bottom as a dishwasher. I learned the hard way once I got my start in fine-dining, working in various restaurants, working with all kinds of cuisines, and now I’m doing Latin-American food.

As an Ecuadorian, my goals are to elevate not only Ecuadorian cuisine but also Latin-American cuisine. For us as Latinos here, it’s very hard to come up, we don’t just get kicked down in general, but we sadly kick each other down even between our own people. There are many great Latin cooks, but the issue I feel is we sometimes don’t like having our own people reach out to try and help us; next thing you know we’re fighting to one-up each other and we don’t improve, trying to show we’re better than each other instead of acting as a supportive and inclusive community.

I was lucky to have worked with great chefs on my way up, and now I want to share that same experience with the cooks I work with, to help them come up; they’re more than just co-workers, they’re friends, and I hope everyone does the same, giving these up-and-coming talents the spotlight to grow and learn because we can’t all be shadows forever helping the big names stay big. We need to make a name for ourselves, too!”