How Chef Jesus Diaz Is Helping To Promote Healthy Eating

How Chef Jesus Diaz Is Helping To Promote Healthy Eating

Absolutely. Healthy eating has become a priority for me, particularly after my mother passed away. I realized how important it was for her to maintain a healthy diet. As a father of two daughters, I want to instill these healthy eating habits in my children to avoid the health issues my mother faced, which might have been due to a lack of awareness. This generational shift means we have more information and resources to make informed choices about what we eat. After my mother’s passing, I became more serious about eating healthily and incorporating exercise. My mother’s experience was the primary inspiration for my passion in this area.

In this interview series, called “Chefs and Restaurateurs Helping To Promote Healthy Eating” we are talking to chefs and restaurateurs who are helping to promote and raise awareness about healthy eating. The purpose of the series is to amplify their message and share insights about healthy eating with our readers. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of talking with Chef Jesus.

Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Chef Jesus Diaz has transformed from a budding baseball enthusiast to an award-winning Latin American chef. After relocating to the United States in 2000, Jesus’s aspirations shifted from the baseball field to the culinary realm, driven in part by his early years in the U.S., where he learned independence and honed his skills in the kitchen.

His journey in the culinary world began humbly, working as a dishwasher at IHOP. Over five years, his innate talent and dedication saw him rise through the ranks, ultimately becoming a store manager. His expertise further expanded at Gordon Food Service, North America’s leading private foodservice distributor, where he consulted with a range of food businesses.

In 2012, Jesus showcased his culinary prowess by opening Ikura Sushi Lounge in Coral Gables. After six prosperous years, he shifted his focus to television. By 2017, he became the renowned Chef and co-host of Univision’s “Despierta America”, earning him two Emmy Awards. Moreover, in 2021, he dazzled audiences by clinching victory in the reality dance competition, “Mira Quien Baila”.

Aside from his on-screen achievements, Jesus authored “Cocina Delicioso con Chef Yisus” in 2020, a book brimming with easy yet sophisticated recipes. He’s revered for his mastery in Nikkei cuisine, seamlessly blending Peruvian and Japanese flavors.

Currently, Miami-based Chef Jesus is diving into a new venture, a 13-episode TV series named “Que Delicia: El Sabor de America”. Premiering in late 2023 on Vix, this series delves into the rich tapestry of Latin American food influences in the U.S. Outside the kitchen, Jesus prioritizes family time with his wife and two daughters and maintains a rigorous exercise regimen, which he believes fuels his zest for life.


Thank you for joining us today. It’s wonderful to have you here. Our readers would love to get to know you a bit. Can you share a story about what inspired you to become a chef?

Ofcourse. First, it was out of necessity. I came to the US when I was 17 years old. My brothers and I always had my mom cooking for us — breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If we went into the kitchen, it was to help her. She was the one doing the cooking. So, when I was 17 and away from my parents, I had to start making my own food. My first job was at a restaurant, and from there, I continued working in restaurants and hotels. I think that’s how I got started, seeing cooking and the kitchen as a potential career and business opportunity. I wanted to have my own place eventually. It all began like that, and I started applying the things I learned at that first job while observing other chefs and cooks. That’s how it all started.

That’s beautiful. I love that. Do you have a specific type of food you focus on? What first drew you to cooking that type of food? Can you share a story about it with us?

Yeah, after working in regular, high-stress kitchens, I learned about Asian cuisine. I noticed how Asian chefs put a lot of time and detail into their plates and recipes. They were often in the front of the house, not in the hot kitchen, frantically trying to get everything done. They took their time, enjoyed the restaurant’s ambiance, and observed customers trying their dishes. Seeing those reactions is vital for a chef. When you’re in the hot kitchen at the back, you don’t get to experience that. So I fell in love with this type of cuisine, which is a combination of Japanese and Peruvian, called Nikkei. It mainly involves cold food, which allows you to be in the front of the house, interacting with a different rhythm. It also provides you with the opportunity to be creative when plating and serving dishes. It offers more resources for elaboration and curation compared to working with a steak or mashed potatoes.

I love that story. In your experience, what is the key to creating a dish that people love?

I think it’s the combination of textures. I always aim for that because it’s what I enjoy when I try food. You want to combine different temperatures and flavors to create a dish that excites your taste buds. Let me explain. You can work with a wide range of temperatures. You can have a very cold, raw element that needs to be kept at a specific temperature. Then, you can have a warm sauce, add all the other components, and create a combination of crunchy and creamy textures. When you bring all these elements together, you come up with really nice recipes, and the best part is seeing people enjoy them when they taste it — the different reactions in their mouths.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that has happened to you since you started? What lesson did you take away from that experience?

One thing that I find funny now is the sheer volume of work I had when I began as a dishwasher. I remember those incredibly busy days, like Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, or Mother’s Day, which are the most critical days in a restaurant. I used to look at all those piles of plates and things to clean, and it’s a funny memory that takes me back. I can now appreciate it more because I’ve been through it. Thinking about myself doing it back then is kind of amusing, considering I did it for a few years.

This experience taught me the importance of learning every position in a restaurant. If I wanted to, I could step in when the dishwasher didn’t show up in my own restaurant. I felt confident because I had been through that already, and it wouldn’t stop me from having a successful night at the restaurant.

That’s a great story about your time as a dishwasher. None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Did you have any mentors or cheerleaders who played a role in your success? Can you share a story about their influence?

Absolutely. I would say my best influencers and the most incredible team I could have asked for was my own family. My brother helped me remodel my restaurant when I first acquired it because he’s skilled with electricity and mechanics. His expertise saved me a lot of money. My sister was also a part of my team from day one, which gave me peace of mind, knowing she was there, taking care of things. And of course, my parents were always supportive. They were there every day, helping with cleaning and washing dishes, even though I wouldn’t let them. I always felt their support. It meant the world to me.

So, personally, what’s the perfect meal for you?

For me, I think any type of fish would be perfect. I’m always thinking about and savoring fish dishes, even when I’m searching for new ideas.

But what I would truly enjoy right now is a traditional Venezuelan meal, the Arepa. It’s something I’d love to have again and truly relish. An Arepa is like a taco. We eat it at any time of the day, although it’s ideal for breakfast. There are often leftovers, so we have them for lunch, and if we don’t make the exact amount, we keep eating them throughout the day. They are made from cornmeal, and it’s simple to make. You create the dough with water, salt, and a bit of oil. Then you form the dough into discs and cook them on a griddle or fry them. It’s a delicious treat. It’s easy and delicious.

Do you still own a restaurant?

I sold it in 2018. I had it for six years, but I’m still dreaming of opening another one at some point.

So, where do you find your inspiration for creating dishes? Is there something you turn to for a daily creativity boost?

I’d say it’s all about pleasing the customers. Once you understand what your clientele is looking for, you continually strive to satisfy them and keep them coming back. Whatever works, you build upon that and keep trying to create dishes with similar tastes and textures. You aim to have a menu where every item is a hit. That’s the ultimate goal for any chef — creating a menu that delights their customers.

All right. Are you currently working on any new or exciting projects? And what impact do you think these will have?

We just finished filming a show, and it’s a dream come true for me. I had the opportunity to create a show where I could travel across the United States, showcasing Latin cuisine. I visited 13 different cities and more than 50 different restaurants, all within a four-month period. It was an incredible experience because it allowed me to connect with families who came to the US with dreams and were able to realize those dreams through their food and kitchens. This was personally meaningful for me because I’ve been through a similar journey as a restaurant owner. The show is called “Qué Delicia, El Sabor de América,” and it’s available on the Vix streaming platform owned by Televisa Univision, the network I’ve worked with for the past six years. We’ve already released six episodes since October 12, and we plan to release seven more in December, for a total of 13. We traveled to the West Coast, including Los Angeles, San Diego, Long Beach, Atlanta, Canada, Raleigh, Orlando, and Miami, and ended in New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. It was quite an adventure. You’ll enjoy it, especially the stories behind every restaurant and family. That’s why I say the support of your family is crucial, especially when you’re starting a new business and dedicating all your time and effort. When you feel that support, it gives you an extra boost and a sense of companionship.

I completely agree. It’s invaluable. Now, let’s dive into the main part of our interview. You’re leading an initiative to promote healthy eating. Can you tell us about your goals and what you’re trying to change in our world today?

Absolutely. Healthy eating has become a priority for me, particularly after my mother passed away. I realized how important it was for her to maintain a healthy diet. As a father of two daughters, I want to instill these healthy eating habits in my children to avoid the health issues my mother faced, which might have been due to a lack of awareness. This generational shift means we have more information and resources to make informed choices about what we eat. After my mother’s passing, I became more serious about eating healthily and incorporating exercise. My mother’s experience was the primary inspiration for my passion in this area.

Can you tell us about an individual who has supported your cause without mentioning specific names?

Certainly. There are other chefs who are also promoting healthy eating and supporting this cause. They contribute their time and effort by cooking together during events or activities that benefit organizations focused on healthy eating. These chefs play a significant role in this movement, and it’s not limited to professional chefs — anyone who loves cooking and is passionate about healthy eating can make a valuable contribution.

Are there three things that the community, society, or politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you’re trying to solve?

It’s about providing more information, maintaining control over what’s available in our grocery stores, and regulating the content we see in marketing, TV, and advertisements. This is essential because not everyone has the same resources to follow specific diets or buy particular foods. Many times, it’s about the cost, and healthier ingredients tend to be more expensive than less healthy options. So, changing this and offering more affordable options will make it easier for everyone to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

I completely agree; affordability is key. Can you share five things you wish someone had told you when you first started as a chef, and why? You can also share a story or example for each.

I might not have five, but there’s one very important piece of advice. It’s essential to work in every position within this business to gain experience and a comprehensive understanding. While culinary school is valuable for learning techniques and terminology, this is a hands-on career. You can’t learn everything from books alone; you need practical experience. Going through every position, whether it’s working as a dishwasher, prep cook, line cook, or in other roles, is invaluable. It gives you a well-rounded education in the restaurant business.

I’d like to invite everyone to watch my show on Vix. It’s a free streaming platform available in your App Store. You’ll love the food and hear incredible stories about different cities with rich character and history.

The show sounds fantastic. Is there a person in the world or the US with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why?

I would love to meet Chef Gastón Acurio from Peru. He’s built an empire of 60–70 restaurants worldwide, and his work has transformed many lives through food, kitchens, and job opportunities. He took kids off the streets in Peru and turned them into chefs, many of whom are now executive chefs in his restaurants. His influence on Peruvian cuisine has made it one of the best in the world. I would be honored to have breakfast, lunch, or even just a coffee with him.

He sounds like an incredible person. I love that choice. How can our readers follow your work online? Do you have a website or social media handles?

Yes, you can find me at I’m also on social media as Chef Jesus on Instagram and TikTok. I co-host the morning show on Univision from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., Monday through Friday. And, of course, you can catch my new show, “Qué Delicia, El Sabor de América,” on Vix.

Wonderful, I’ll be sure to follow your work. This was a meaningful conversation. Thank you so much, Chef Jesus. We wish you continued success in your great work. We need more people like you in the world.

Thank you so much. That’s really beautiful.

About the Interviewer: Wanda Malhotra is a wellness entrepreneur, lifestyle journalist, and the CEO of Crunchy Mama Box, a mission-driven platform promoting conscious living. CMB empowers individuals with educational resources and vetted products to help them make informed choices. Passionate about social causes like environmental preservation and animal welfare, Wanda writes about clean beauty, wellness, nutrition, social impact and sustainability, simplifying wellness with curated resources. Join Wanda and the Crunchy Mama Box community in embracing a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle at


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