11 Things You Need to Know About Venezuelan Chef Lorena Garcia

Despite having a different career path in mind when she initially emigrated from her native Venezuela, Lorena Garcia — perhaps you recognize her from Top Chef Masters? — has managed to become one of the leading female chefs in the United States (with, honestly, the chicest chef coats ever).

And so, it's time we all learn more about this Latina cooking powerhouse who's influencing healthy changes to the food we know and love. Keep reading to discover some seriously interesting facts!

  1. She was born in Caracas, Venezuela.
  2. Her mom, Blanca Ibáñez, is a politician in Venezuela who was married to former president Jaime Lusinchi.
  3. She initially was working toward her associate's degree in paralegal studies before deciding to enroll in Johnson & Wales University's culinary arts program.
  4. She started Big Chef, Little Chef to teach kids and parents about the importance of healthy eating — and how to do it.
  5. She created Taco Bell's lighter fare menu, Cantina Bell.
  6. She has a line of branded cookware on HSN.
  7. She came in third place on season four of Bravo's Top Chef Masters.
  8. She has two airport restaurants: Lorena Garcia Cocina at Miami International and Lorena Garcia Tapas at Atlanta International.
  9. She loves cilantro, according to her Twitter bio.
  10. She has two cookbooks: Lorena Garcia's New Latin Classics and Lorena Garcia's New Taco Classics.
  11. She is currently a judge on Telemundo's Top Chef Estrellas.