By Cinthia Campillo
Celebrity chefs, a red carpet and an atmosphere to match make the 2013 Latin Gourmet Awards a one-of-a-kind event. It has even been compared to the Emmy’s of food by many past attendees.
It’s a night where an elite group of influential and successful Latin chefs from around the world come together to be honored and showcase what they do best—cook— a treat that the guest list of nearly 800 people get to enjoy first-hand.
This year it will take place on October 4, 2013 at the spacious Hampton Inn and Suites in Mesquite.
Sandy Garza, organizer of the event, became involved with the Awards in 2010 after being approached with the idea by a former partner. The event they produced was called Flavors of Passion Awards, now known as The Latin Gourmet Awards. Garza loved the fact that an event like this one had never been brought to Dallas.
“[The event] caters to upscale and influent Latinos here in Dallas,” said the Laredo native. “It’s a unique event. It’s not an expo, it’s not a tasting, this is about the chefs that are being honored.”
Garza doesn’t like comparing the Awards to any other event because she said there’s nothing like it right now. The purpose is to highlight three Latin chefs that have been carefully selected internationally, nationally and locally.
The chefs come to receive an award, but do much more than that. They share their talent by preparing samples of their signature dishes in front of the guest. Garza believes although the Awards are a place where people come to enjoy exquisite food and have a celebrity-like experience, they’re actually getting in touch with their culture.
“At the end of the day we want people to feel proud of their Latin gastronomy because it’s one of the best in the world,” said the event planner. “We want to bring the best our Latin food has to offer within the reach of the people.”
Although the event is already known for having a high profile noto- riety, this year Garza hopes to take things to the next level, beginning with the host of the event. Chef Ingrid Hoffman will take on this role for the first time ever on the Latin Gourmet Awards. Hoffman is most commonly known for being the host on the Cooking Channel’s show Simply Delicioso and Univision’s Delicioso.
The television personality will be receiving an appreciation award at the event and will be celebrating the release of her newest cookbook LATIN D’LITE: Delicious Latin Recipes with a Healthy Twist.
This Year’s Awards
Coca Cola, the main sponsor of the night, will be giving away the longstanding International Award to Chef Alfredo Oropeza, known for having four best-selling cookbooks promoting healthy cooking techniques and multiple cooking shows and TV appearances. Ben E. Keith Co., another of the night’s big sponsors, will honor Chef James Tahhan with the National Award. The Venezuelan has carried out over 500 programs of live cuisine.
There is one more award that has many chefs and spectators in the DFW area anxious— the Local Award. This award won’t be revealed until days before the event, building up the anticipation of the fortunate chef that will receive the honor of being recognized as one of the best Latin chefs in the area.
If the exclusive line-up of celebrity chefs weren’t enough to convince any food fanatic this is the place to be, this year two new awards have been added to the list. Sponsor Rudy’s Tortillas will be honoring two outstanding restaurateurs in the DFW area. The recipients will be Mario Letayf, owner of Lazaranda and Laura Sanchez, owner of La Calle Doce.
The two experienced restaurant owners have been selected for their excellence in customer satisfaction, their unique style dishes and their impact in the community.
The Brain Behind the Plan
The lively and outgoing Garza said the Awards may be fairly new to the DFW community, but the plans ahead are much bigger.
“The plan is to take the event nationwide,” she said. “They have already contacted me about taking it to other states, but I want to focus on spreading it to other Texas cities first. We hope to take it to San Antonio on April of next year.”
Garza has been involved in producing events for other Dallas organizations including, The South East Dallas Hispanic Chamber, The Oak Cliff Coalition of the Art and the Hispanic Contractors Association.
The event producer began her career working in promotional sales at the Tejano Music Awards before moving to Dallas in 1998. She has extensive experience in working with sponsors for big events.
“My true passion is fundraising,” said Garza. “I like dealing with sponsors and making sure everybody’s getting their money’s worth. People forget fundraising is one of the most, if not the most important thing about producing an event.” The second most important feature to her is educating her audience.
“I hope through this event people will get to know more about our chefs,” said the planner. “My goal is for them to enjoy the event
and simply have a great time.”
For more information on the 2013 Latin Gourmet Awards visit latingourmetawards.com, contact Sandy Garza at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (469) 855-1934.