Chef and Food Network Regular Carl Ruiz Dies at 44
On Friday, Food Network regular and celebrated Cuban-American chef Carl Ruiz posted a series of Instagram photos from his trip to Baltimore, including a picture of his Amtrak ticket from Penn Station, a beef sandwich and plate of hand-cut fries from Chaps Pit Beef, and a shot of himself standing in front of a set of Megalodon jaws at the National Aquarium. "I’m trying to catch me a smart one," he wrote.
On Sunday, La Cubana, Ruiz' New York City restaurant, used the same platform to announce that Ruiz, their "beloved Executive Chef" had died suddenly. "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 restaurant wrote. "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."
Ruiz, 44, was known for his frequent appearances as both a competitor and judge on multiple Food Network shows. According to NJ.com, Ruiz first appeared on the channel during a 2013 episode of Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives that featured Marie’s Italian Specialties, a Chatham-based deli that he owned at the time. He also appeared on Guy's Ranch Kitchen, and won an episode of Guy's Grocery Games before returning as a celebrity judge.
"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 on Sunday. "His ability to make me laugh and smile under any circumstances was only outshined by his talent as a chef.
In a second tweet, Fieri wrote that "a friend like Carl is one in a hundred million." Fieri's son, Hunter, also posted his own tribute. "A great friend, and a remarkable chef and restaurant owner. You always had my back and always supported your friends," the younger Fieri wrote. "I hope you’ve got some good bourbon, cigars and pizza without pineapple on it up there."
As the news of Ruiz' passing spread on Sunday, other chefs and Food Network personalities paid their respects to the chef. "Carl you will be missed," Iron Chef and restaurateur Michael Symon wrote. "You made us all laugh often & then laugh some more."
"This man was somehow fatherly, comforting, wise, reckless, brilliant, wickedly funny & unique all in one," Alex Guarnaschelli tweeted. My life will be lonelier without him. I'll make sure nobody puts pineapple on pizza without you here."
"You taught us how to enjoy every moment to the fullest and not live wondering what if," Jet Tila posted. "You are gone way too soon @carlruiz ! I will always be #ruizing! You will be remembered by us all! Thank you @guyfieri for bringing Carl into all of our lives."
Ruiz opened La Cubana in New York City's Meatpacking District in June, and it has already pledged to establish a scholarship for aspiring chefs in his honor. "You are already missed," the restaurant wrote. "Rest easy."