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Despite Being Blind, Latina Chef Opens Dream Restaurant In Chicago

Chicago chef Laura Martinez, who worked with the late world-renowned chef Charlie Trotter, opened up her own restaurant-though she is blind.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS -- Opening a new restaurant is a challenging and risky venture in and of itself. But for Chicago-based Chef Laura Martinez, who is blind, it just needed to be done.

She spent the last two years fine-tuning the details of La Diosa, a Mexican and French infused mix that cherishes her heritage while honoring her mentor, the late Chicago chef and restaurateur Charlie Trotter.

Her culinary interest started with a fascination with knives at a very young age, she tells Telemundo.

“At first I wanted to be a surgeon but then decided to pursue cooking,” says Martinez.

And so she did, regardless of her disability and the constant discouragement from friends and family.

In 2010 she graduated from Le Cordon Blue College of Culinary Arts in Chicago, and before long she found herself working for the world-renowned Trotter. But after he closed his restaurant two years ago, her career and culinary vision hit a roadblock.

“It was very hard to find employment after that, so I said to myself, I have to have a backup and what better way than opening my own restaurant,” says Martinez.

The 30-year-old Mexican native lost her sight to eye cancer when she was just a toddler, but her culinary vision has always been bright and clear; her imagination running wild with a mix of condiments and flavor that she couldn’t wait to transform into unique creations.

“I can’t see in colors but my imagination is very much alive,” Martinez says.

On opening day Friday, she touches and examines her food with great care and delicacy. Although timid and soft- spoken she wasn’t shy to tell her husband to “put the bacon back in the oven” because it wasn’t crunchy enough.

Her mom and husband, now turned firm believers in her ability to do this, are alongside to help execute her vision and provide moral support. And although blindness is the least of her concerns, she says with the new restaurant she feels the obligation to prove that success is well within reach of anyone who wants it.