What was your first big break after entering the field professionally?
Catering for the Lieutenant Governor (of California) at his inauguration. After that I was catering all the time, mostly for elected officials and celebrities. I didn’t even have business cards. Business came solely by referral. My friend Sara helped name the company “Savor,” because she said that is how you can best describe my food. That is where I caught the attention other media, and the rest, as they say, is history.
At what point did you feel that you had really “arrived” as a chef?
When I was honored as a humanitarian and entrepreneur at the California Museum of History by a committee of respected Latina leaders from all fields of endeavors and across the state. First Lady Maria Shriver also asked me to cater the event.
How did your professional, or “stage name” of Chef LaLa come about?
My nephew Ryan (now 21) could not say Laura (sounds like La-u-ra in Spanish) as a baby and he called me “LaLa.” It’s a term of endearment that has carried over to all aspects of my life, even professionally. No one really calls me Laura.
Your bio mentions your mastery of 23 varieties of Latin cuisine. We couldn’t resist – would you list them for us?
The Encyclopedia Britannica explains the word LATIN as “the countries of South America and North America, including Central America and the islands of the Caribbean, whose inhabitants speak a Romance language.” Therefore: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay and Venezuela, plus the Spanish-speaking Caribbean islands.
In Part 2 we’ll look at the contributions and strides of Chef LaLa