Zarela Martinez

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Zarela Martinez
Born Agua Prieta, Mexico
Occupation Restaurateur, author
Partner(s) Jamie Gillis
Children Aarón Sanchez
Parents Aida Gabilondo
Relatives Francisco Gabilondo Soler

Zarela Martinez (born in Agua Prieta, Mexico) is a New York City-based restaurateur and cookbook author. She learned cooking from her mother Aida Gabilondo, also a cookbook author. Martinez serves on the Board of Directors for the Mexican Cultural Institute of New York.


Chef Paul Prudhomme served as Martinez' mentor after he discovered her in a New Orleans cooking class and around 1979, Martinez opened her catering business El Paso.[1] In 1987 Martinez opened Zarela, a Mexican restaurant that is credited as being a pioneer of regional Mexican cuisine in New York City. The restaurant closed in 2011, citing rising expenses and financial issues prompted by an increasing economic crisis.[2]

Martinez has made several television appearances and her 2001 cookbook Zarela’s Veracruz was written as the companion book to the 2001 PBS series Zarela! La Cocina Veracruzana. In 2004 she was labeled one of seven individuals that helped redefined the American culinary landscape since the last half of the twentieth century by the U.S. State Department’s online publication E-Journal USA: U.S. Society & Values.[3]

Awards and accolades[edit]

  • Best International Book of the Year for Food from My Heart: Cuisines of Mexico Remembered and Reimagined, The James Beard Foundation (1993, nominated)[4]
  • Who's Who of American Food Professionals, James Beard Foundation (2013)


  • Food from My Heart: Cuisines of Mexico Remembered and Reimagined (1995)
  • The Food and Life of Oaxaca: Traditional Recipes from Mexico's Heart (1997)
  • Zarela's Veracruz (2001)
  • Zarela's Veracruz: Mexico's Simplest Cuisine (2004)
  • Food from my Heart: Cuisines of Mexico Remembered and Reimagined (2010)


  1. ^ "MEMORABLE DISHES FROM A MASTER MEXICAN CHEF". NY Times. Retrieved 8 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "Foodies say adios to pioneering Mexican midtown restaurant Zarela - but not chef". NY Daily News. Retrieved 8 December 2013. 
  3. ^ "The Taste Setters". E-Journal USA: U.S. Society & Values. Retrieved 8 December 2013. 
  4. ^ Beard Foundation unveils 1993 award nominees

External links[edit]