Just months before Chef Carl Ruiz's death, the Food Network star opened the La Cubana NYC restaurant in the Meatpacking District. On Sunday, the restaurant released a statement on behalf of his family on Instagram, confirming his death at age 44. They also announced the establishment of a scholarship foundation for aspiring chefs.
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"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 statement reads. "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 along his #Ruizing adventures."
The statement continued, "His fierce intellect and infectious humor knew no bounds. He was a mighty force of down home Cuban cuisine, and lived life to the fullest, just as he cooked — with 'dancing always' as the most important ingredient. Here at La Cubana, Carl paid proud tribute to his Cuban roots each night, and it is here that Carl's legacy, undeniable spirit and passion for his culture will live on. We hope we make you proud, Carlito."
The restaurant and Ruiz's family announced the establishment of The Carl Ruiz Scholarship Foundation to help aspiring chefs.
"We love you! You are already missed. Rest easy," the statement concluded.
Many of Ruiz's fans left their condolences in the comments section.
"Sorry for your loss. I only interacted with him on social media but her was a great guy, entertaining and big hearted. RIP Chef," one person wrote.
"Heart broken! We’ll miss you Chef Carlito. Couldn’t believe it when I read it. RIP," another posted.
"I just can’t comprehend this — how does that type of energy extinguish??" another chimed in.
La Cubana opened in June 2019. According to its website, the restaurant offers "a vibrant new dining destination where authentic Cuban cuisine, vintage cocktails, and live Latin music set the stage for a colorful, old-world Havana-inspired experience."
Ruiz died Saturday. He was a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education and spent more than 25 years in the food and restaurant industry. He frequently appeared on Guy Fieri's Food Network shows, helping to make him a household name.
"I’m heartbroken that my friend chef Carl Ruiz is gone. I have no words to describe what a great friend he was to me and my family," Fieri wrote.0comments
"His ability to make me laugh and smile under any circumstances was only outshined by his talent as a chef. Over the years, I’ve met a lot of great people but a friend like Carl is one in a hundred million," Fieri continued. "Carl 'The Cuban' Ruiz will forever live on in my heart and in those of all who loved him."
Photo credit: Food Network