Mexican-born Zarela Martínez rewrote the story of Mexican cuisine in the U.S. when she opened her game-changing New York restaurant “Zarela” in 1987. This legendary dining spot replaced ignorant culinary stereotypes with brilliant, fearless explorations of regional Mexican specialties embedded in their own distinctive contexts. Martinez is the author of Food from My Heart (1992), The Food and Life of Oaxaca (1997), and Zarela’s Veracruz (2001), which was also the companion to a 13-part PBS television series. In 2013 she was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America. In the same year Harvard/Radcliffe’s Schlesinger Library acquired her unpublished papers, an invaluable documentation of a lifetime dedicated to enlightening food-lovers everywhere about Mexican cuisine and culture.

Headshot by Laurie Smith