Celebrity chef Carl Ruiz, owner of New York’s La Cubana restaurant and a Food Network regular, has died at the age of 44, his restaurant confirmed in a Sunday statement.
“No words can fully express our sadness at the sudden loss of our dear friend and brother,” La Cubana wrote on Instagram. A cause of death was not mentioned.
“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 added, using a term coined by Ruiz’s fans that Urban Dictionary defines as “just living the simple, best life.”
“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,” La Cubana said.
As NJ.com noted, Ruiz first gained national attention in 2013 when Marie’s Italian Specialties, a deli and cafe Ruiz owned in his home state of New Jersey, was featured on an episode of Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”
Ruiz would go on to appear in several Food Network shows, including “Guy’s Grocery Games,” hosted by celebrity chef Guy Fieri.
Fieri said Sunday that he was “heartbroken” by Ruiz’s death.
Several other Food Network stars have also paid tribute to the chef.
“The world is significantly worse without you. Heaven doesn’t know what just hit it,” chef Eric Greenspan wrote on Instagram.
“He made people laugh who’d forgotten how to laugh. He set rooms on fire. He was the match and the kerosene,” said food critic Troy Johnson.