AS Food & Beverage Management
(Program included a year of culinary arts)
BA Business Administration
Hola! I am Maira; also known as Chef Maira Isabel. I am an Award Winning Chef, a culinary innovator and some consider me a trendsetter in the Food Service & Culinary Industry. In 2017 I was named -and was honored to be chosen- as one of Fast Casual Magazine Movers & Shakers.
For over 3 years, I was the Corporate Executive Chef and VP of Research and Development (R&D) of Schlotzsky's/ FOCUS Brands. There, I lead the R&D Department where I was in charge of creating new menu items, Limited Time Offers (LTO’s), Costing Recipes (COGS), Franchisee Relations, Operation Efficiency and so much more. My creations can still be enjoyed in more than 375 restaurants worldwide. Alongside with my team, we engineered and developed the menu and recipes/builds for the new evolution/prototype of the brand “Schlotzsky’s Austin Eatery”. Currently I work as a culinary consultant where I get to develop recipes for multiple clients.
Before I joined FOCUS brands, I worked at Disney World Golf Courses as their Executive Chef. This job presented an exciting challenge while at the same time was an honor to be the first Hispanic and woman to undertake this role. Also, I was the Puerto Rico Ambassador and Puerto Rico's Executive Chef at the Epcot Food and Wine Fest 2014 (EFWF). Here, I conducted 23 live cooking & beverage demos, developed and created -alongside Epcot's culinary team- the recipes for the Puerto Rico Marketplace. What's more, I was among the chosen 20 chefs to present at the EFWF signature event; “The Party of the Senses” a world-class event known as Orlando’s ultimate culinary event.
For 15 years, I had the pleasure to work as chef and talent of numerous television shows. These include “Tu Mañana”- Univisión PR, "Levántate" – Telemundo which aired live in Latin America's 30 Countries and coast to coast in US, “En Todas” (WIPR - PR PBS Station), Sabores de Familia" -Fox Utilísima Network (Latin America's "do-it-yourself" network). These shows are no longer in production. I was the hostess of the Bizarre Food Puerto Rico show on The Travel Channel and Hook, Line and Dinner on the Cooking Channel among other USA national television networks. On print and on-line media, I’ve being featured on numerous publications including: Restaurant News Magazine, Food & Beverage On-line Magazine, Flavors and the Menu Magazine, 1851Franchaise.com On-line Magazine, Fast Casual Magazine, Atlanta Business Journal Newspaper, Latina Lista Blog, Atlanta Business Chronicle Newspaper, Atlanta Magazine, Caras Magazine, El Nuevo Dia Newspaper, The San Juan Star Newspaper, Imagen Magazine, Vea Magazine and Buena Vida Magazine just to mention a few.
For over 18 years and now again, I've owned Chef Maira Isabel SVC’s, a culinary & food service consulting firm, where I offer an extensive line of services all related to the culinary arts. These include Recipe and Product Development, Brand Ambassador, Food and Prop Styling, Food Service and Culinary Teaching and Lifestyle & Culinary Reporter. Some of my former and current clients include: Saige Chef Meal Delivery, Florida Dairy Association, KFC (Yum Brands Puerto Rico), Hot Potato Fast Food Chain, Avon Make Up, Smuckers, Mazola Oils, Ritz Crackers (US Hispanic Market), Kitchen Aid Appliances, Carmela Sausages, American Military Academy of PR, Matosantos Food Service Distribution, The Government of Puerto Rico, Casiano Communications, Unilever, Arco Advertising and Walmart Puerto Rico among many others.
Like most chefs, one of my lifelong dreams was to open my own restaurant. The paradisiac Island of Culebra in Puerto Rico was the perfect location and Guava Restaurant operated from 2012 to 2015. The menu featured worldwide flavors with Caribbean fusions. It was an honor to cook for some many tourists, locals and celebrities alike.
Besides cooking, I am passionate about teaching and coming from a long line of teachers, it was something I simply had to do. In 2007 I opened "Let’s Cook PR" a Cooking School, where for more than 7 years I taught students -of all levels- the beauty of the wonderful world of cooking. Another dream, was to publish a cookbook. Thanks to the support of many people and mostly of the viewers of the TV and radio shows I was and had been on “Gourmet Para Todos Los Días” (Gourmet for Every Day) got published in 2011. Within a week it went went on to be the #1 cookbook in Puerto Rico and stay as such for more than 10 straight weeks. I also wrote another book, this time a children's book called How Angels Become Babies a story about adoption.
If you have ever heard me talk you, know I have a very strong accent. Trust me is real! I was lucky and very proud to be born into a culturally diverse family coming from Cuba, Venezuela, Spain and Puerto Rico where I grew up and spend my childhood. I am bilingual (English/Spanish) currently learning French, Portuguese and Italian. In my free time, I enjoy traveling – especially cruises- and have visited over 30 counties. Of course, I adore cooking, wines, painting (I was an art major in college at first), photography and my collection of menus and cookbooks are getting out of hand with around 775 menus and 1200+ cookbooks.
If I have missed anything here, feel free to email me. I am always delighted to hear from all of you!