by Natalie Hollingshead – Provo Daily Herald Correspondent
When Adalberto Diaz was 9 years old, he made his first from-scratch dish. It was fritters, the now 38-year-old Diaz recalls, and the creation gave his dad an allergic reaction. But he was not deterred.
At age 10, he made a lemon sponge cake for his birthday, and the neighbors liked it so much they asked the budding chef to make another.
“I made 3 pesos, almost 15 cents of a dollar,” Diaz wrote on his blog, Cooking with Adalberto (blog.adalbertodiaz.com). “And that was the beginning of my cooking journey.”
Although that voyage began in Cuba — where he was born and raised — Diaz left that country in 2000 to come to the United States as a political refugee. His crime? Running a bakery.
Despite the obstacles he encountered after arriving in America, Diaz never deviated from his love for cooking and baking. Over the years, Diaz has made a name for himself in Utah’s food industry. He’s worked in several of the state’s top restaurants, hosted cooking segments on television and is now a chef-instructor in Utah Valley University’s Culinary Arts Institute.
But there’s more icing on the cake. Diaz has recently been selected to compete in a top pastry competition. On Saturday in Albuquerque, he will compete for the American Culinary Federation’s Western Region Pastry Chef of the Year. A team of students from UVU also will be competing in the student team competition at that event.
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