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Finding Your Food Family

Dominique Saint Malo | April 21, 2021

People | Heart to Table

All about heart and food, Chef Grace Ramirez proves globe-trotting requires just a few ingredients and a lot of soul

The latest episode of the Hormel Foods podcast “Heart to Table” will make any listener feel some serious gastronomic wanderlust. This week’s guest is Grace Ramirez, a Latina TV personality, author and chef devoted to culinary curiosity and the heart that goes into both cooking and eating. In her upbeat chat with host Laurie March, Grace reminds us we can travel the world with nothing more than our dinner plates, going somewhere completely new or connecting with our roots from one meal to the next.

Grace was born in Miami but spent much of her childhood with her grandparents in Venezuela, where, like with many Latin cultures, the spirit behind home-cooked meals is an act of love in its own right. This spirit is something Grace has taken with her on her own food journey. “I show my love through food, just like my grandmother, my great-grandmother and my grandfather did,” she notes. “Food, for me, became a great vehicle of being connected to my culture.”

Lifelong Exposure to New Cultures

Grace grew up eating arepas, homemade curry and everything in between. That lifelong exposure to new cultures and cuisines is something she says she can appreciate now. Likewise, she has the compassionate perspective of someone who can recognize two truths at once. For one, she has always had a rich connection with food. Grace’s grandfather was a pilot, and when her grandmother traveled with him, she would learn to cook different cuisines. Grace still explores new cuisines herself. She is able to deepen her connection to her culture through food and makes regular culinary discoveries (like swapping the improperly deseeded tomato for pomegranate seeds in your guacamole — “that’s going to be a game-changer”). For another, Grace has learned and acted on the knowledge that many are not so lucky.

The kitchen is so humbling because you never stop learning.

Chef Grace Ramirez

“I’ve been very privileged to travel across the States,” she says. “Food deserts are a real thing, and that, to me, has been shocking.” Adding more proof to the pudding (or pomegranate guac) that she believes in food as an agent of global change, she has an appetite for sustainability and limiting food waste, both of which are primary focuses in her work with the United Nations’ Act Now campaign. The Grace Ramirez Instagram, Twitter and website serve to reinforce this creative kind-heartedness. She shares cooking tips just as often as anecdotes about her philanthropic efforts with countless organizations. Working with the likes of World Central Kitchen, Woman Kind, Healthier Generation and Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, to name a few, she shows no sign of stopping. So, if it feels genuine during this episode of “Heart to Table” when she says, “I’m all about heart and food,” that’s because it is.

Always Learning

Grace shares several more genuine moments in the Heart To Table podcast, including ones that can resonate with professional and novice chefs alike. “The kitchen is so humbling,” says Grace, “because you never stop learning.” For instance, she mentions making her own kimchi, asserting she’s not great at it. But she maintains her excitement about the process, and is giving herself time to get it right even when it’s difficult. In this way, Grace is an example of her own gospel. Cooking is for everyone, and she is ready to hold you accountable for it. A nurturer of curiosity, she encourages people to get in the kitchen, because nowadays, there’s no excuse not to. Between internet recipes and Zoom cooking classes, Grace knows fostering your taste buds’ sense of adventure has never been easier, and it allows for more human connection and personal growth.

Toward the end of the episode, March asks Grace what she might say to listeners who are intimidated by cooking. “Gather your family. Do Zoom calls,” Grace answers. “Have support, but do it. Make it fun.”