Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, also known as “DDD” or “Triple D,” has made more than a few restauranteurs successful, but there may not be a better story than that of Carl Ruiz.
A chef who blossomed after being “discovered” by Fieri, Ruiz sadly passed away this weekend at the age of 44.
Diamond in the Rough
Ruiz was paying his dues in the industry, much like thousands of other chefs have done in the business before him. He had worked his way up through the lower ranks to finally earn a position as an executive chef.
Unfortunately, Son Cubana, the Cuban-themed restaurant at which he took his first executive chef position, did not last very long.
Ruiz would take over as executive chef at another restaurant, Brick Oven, before his real big break came.
In 2011, Ruiz and his wife, Maria Riccio, opened up a small deli and café called Maria’s Italian Specialties at the Hickory Square Mall in Chatham Township, NJ.
After quickly becoming a favorite with locals, Guy Fieri made it a stop on the DDD tour. After the episode of that program aired, the restaurant saw an immediate boom, which also helped the profile of the young chef. Fieri would feature the restaurant again as well as use Ruiz as a judge on several of his other television shows.
With his newfound fame and celebrity status, Ruiz would try his hand at Cuban fare again, this time on his own, opening La Cubana in New York City.
By all accounts, Ruiz was a man who had everything to live for. While his cause of death is not formally known yet, suicide seems to be out of the question.
There have been some reports that he died from a heart attack in his sleep, but that has not been confirmed.
Needless to say, Ruiz’s friends and fans from the Food Network were heartbroken over the news, as were his co-workers. La Cubana has started a scholarship in his name to help aspiring chefs.
Rest in peace, Carl. Those who never had the privilege of tasting your food will never know your true genius.