One of the country’s leading Latina chefs, Lorena Garcia '00 was born and raised in Venezuela, and credits her many gatherings spent entertaining family and friends as her career inspiration. “Bringing loved ones together to enjoy wonderful food is something that has always fulfilled me,” Lorena says. She completed her law studies in Santa Maria University in Caracas and moved to the US to complete paralegal studies.
But she soon traded her law papers for a cutting board and chef’s knife to study culinary arts at Johnson & Wales University.
Inspired by her education, Lorena set out on a world tour of countries known for great cuisine. She worked as an apprentice chef in France, Italy, Japan, Korea, Thailand, and China and worked in famed restaurants alongside world-renowned chefs such as Pascal Audin. Her next step was to establish Food Café, and later Elements Tierra, two successful restaurants in Miami’s Design District featuring menus defined by an eclectic blend of Latin and Asian-inspired dishes.
Lorena’s charismatic personality has helped her secure numerous TV roles, including co-hosting NBC's reality competition series “America’s Next Great Restaurant.” She has also taken on the challenge of combating childhood obesity using her culinary knowledge. She developed “Big Chef, Little Chef” as a comprehensive lifestyle modification plan to help kids and their families take control of their eating habits. 2012 has been busy for Lorena: she released her first cookbook, “Lorena Garcia's New Latin Classics” (Ballantine), starred in “Top Chef Masters” season 4, and partnered with Taco Bell to create their new Cantina Bell menu.Lorena currently oversees a growing restaurant empire that includes Lorena Garcia Cocina and Lorena Garcia Tapas, currently open at the Atlanta International Airport and with a second location planned for Dallas/Fort Worth in early 2014. Lorena also owns a 5,000 sq. ft studio space in Miami's design district that serves as a production headquarters and culinary studio for her many multimedia projects.
ChefLorenaGarcia.com is frequently updated with recipes, photos and the latest restaurant openings. Follow her on Facebook (ChefLorenaGarcia) and Twitter (@LorenaGarcia).