Zarela Martinez, born in Mexico in 1947, is a chef, restaurateur, television host, and cookbook author.
Martinez first studied cooking after coming to the United States from Mexico in 1973. She started a catering business in New York in 1981 and created menus for Café Marimba, the first New York restaurant to feature fine Mexican cuisine. She opened her restaurant, Zarela, in 1987; it closed in 2011.
Martinez has been instrumental in introducing Americans to authentic Mexican food through her restaurants, writings, food festivals, cooking lessons, demonstrations, and lectures. The author of three cookbooks (Food from My Heart: Cuisines of Mexico Remembered and Reimagined, 1992; The Food and Life of Oaxaca: Traditional Recipes from Mexico’s Heart, 1997; and, with Anne Mendelson, Zarela’s Veracruz: Cooking and Culture in Mexico’s Tropical Melting Pot, 2001) and star of a 13-part PBS series, ¡Zarela! La Cocina Veracruzana, she was inducted into the James Beard Foundation Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America in 2013 and has received awards from Hispanic Magazine, the Women’s Leadership Exchange, and the Women’s Venture Fund, among others.
Her collection at Schlesinger includes correspondence, manuscript drafts, notebooks, research materials, recipes and restaurant menus, photographs, videotapes, scrapbook, and clippings. Martinez’s ongoing web site is being captured periodically as part of Harvard University Library’s Web Archive Collection.