Beloved Celebrity Chef Carl Ruiz dies unexpectedly
He sparked a heated debate on social media in 2018 when he declared the ‘Best Cuban sandwich in the nation’ was right here in West New York, not Miami or Tampa.
Celebrity chef Carl Ruiz has died. According to sources, the 44-year-old was in Maryland visiting friends on Saturday when he suffered a suspected heart attack in his sleep.
Every time the Food Network star had a moment, he loved heading over to La Pola, the old-school cafe on Palisade Avenue to savor their Latin specialty.
And the chef’s ties to Hudson County don’t stop there — back in 2002, Ruiz became executive chef of Sabor in North Bergen and later that year was hired by the owner of Stephen’s Cafe as a consulting chef for their relaunch.
He was a sous chef at Dish in Clifton as well as a chef at Cuban Pete’s in Montclair. Ruiz’s family hailed from Cuba, and he was a New Yorker for years — but always had mad love from the Cuban American community in his home state of Jersey.
Ruiz frequently appeared on the Food Network as a celebrity judge and competitor. He first came into the national consciousness when his former deli/cafe, Marie’s Italian Specialties was featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” in October 2012, and then again in January 2013.
The Passaic native also won another popular Food Network show, “Guy’s Grocery Games.”
In June 2019 the celebrity chef opened his passion project, “La Cubana” in New York City’s Meatpacking district, where he was the executive chef.
And Ruiz often interviewed other chefs on his SiriusXM show.
His restaurant announced the chef’s passing on its Instagram account and the establishment of the Carl Ruiz Scholarship Foundation, dedicated to the financial support of aspiring chefs attending culinary school.
“On behalf of the La Cubana family, with heavy hearts, we are deeply saddened to share the passing of our beloved Executive Chef Carl Ruiz,” the post said.
“No words can fully express our sadness at the sudden loss of our dear friend and brother. Beyond his immense culinary talent, Carl’s larger-than-life personality never failed to entertain, enlighten, and uplift every person he encountered.”
“He was a mighty force of down home Cuban cuisine, and lived life to the fullest, just as he cooked,” the post continued.