Chef Portillo

Jun 01, 11 Chef Portillo

City you live in:
Whittier, California, which is located 15 minutes from downtown Los Angeles.

Occupation and why?
I am the executive chef of Bella Café, which is my restaurant, as well as the spokesperson for TUCOCINA (, an amazing Latin-inspired kitchenware brand that is guided by family tradition and love of Latin food. TUCOCINA offers a modern take on traditional Latin style kitchenware products. I originally chose the profession of floral designer and always cooked for my family and friends as a hobby. Then I saw the movie Tortilla Soup and was inspired by all the beautiful plates of gorgeous color and food, so I immediately contacted Le Cordon Bleu and enrolled, then combined both my passions of food and flowers.

A regular day consists of?
Getting up early to take my beautiful daughter to school, going to my _café_, seeing what needs to be taken care of (shopping for the restaurant, paying bills, chef, etc.) and marketing my catering business. I then pick up my little one, do homework and make dinner. I wear many hats all day long.

How do you define success?
My daughter.

What has been your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge would be juggling with financial issues related to my company.

What advice would you give a Latina who wants to follow in your footsteps?
Just make sure that you are committed to your craft 100%. If you spread yourself too thin, the stress will be bad. But if you dedicate yourself and remind yourself why you chose this career, ultimately you will have happiness and fulfillment.

What’s on your bucket list?
I would really love to study in Europe and Mexico to learn more cooking techniques.

I am proud to be Latina because:
Being Latina gives me strength in knowing that successful women – our grandmothers, mothers, sisters, friends – are independent, strong, beautiful women and I am following in an amazing footsteps, and teaching my daughter the same values of balance of family, friends, work and amor.

How do you get your Latin fix?
From Manuel “El Tepeyac’s” enchiladas in East Los Angeles, of course. I gotta have them at least monthly.

Spanglish, English, Spanish?
Spanglish, that’s me all the way.

My favorite Latina stereotype is:
We are hot tempered. No, I would say ‘passionate’, not hot tempered. Or maybe a little of both!

Best advice from mami and/or abuelita:
Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough or you can’t do something. That’s just not in our vocab and they’re crazy… well it sounded better in Spanish!

Favorite home remedy:
Hot lemon with president and honey for a common cold!

Favorite Quote
“If you can’t feed a hundred people then just feed one.” – Mother Teresa

[fun]♦ I love walking on our trail in Whittier, and listening to my iPod while singing along loudly. I can’t hear what I sound like but I get some strange looks.[/fun]

[career]♦ Being chosen as the West Coast Spokesperson for TUCOCINA ( and being awarded the Culinary Woman of the Year in 2010 from the National Latina Business Woman Association if Los Angeles. Also, being given a Mercedes SUV from Jafra for my continuing perseverance to overcome obstacles as a single mother entrepreneur.[/career]

[description]“We are hot tempered. No, I would say ‘passionate’, not hot tempered. Or maybe a little of both!”[/description]



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