On Sunday, Carl Ruiz’s restaurant, La Cubana, wrote on Instagram that Ruiz had passed away.
Ruiz was just 44 years old, and it’s unclear what caused the well-known chef’s death, though TMZ posits that a heart attack may have been to blame.
“Carl Ruiz is an acclaimed chef, consultant, and magnetic media personality whose down-home persona never fails to entertain, educate, and uplift,” the La Cubana website states.
“Throughout his prolific 25+ years in the food & restaurant industry, he’s opened restaurants all over the globe, built a successful television and radio career, and headlined world-famous culinary events — and with his well-earned insights, become the ‘secret weapon’ to success for many other star chefs along the way.”
Ruiz appeared on the Food Network many times, and also made appearances on other shows and ran a vlog where he reviewed popular, common restaurants.
“On behalf of the La Cubana family, with heavy hearts, we are deeply saddened to share the passing of our beloved Executive Chef Carl Ruiz,” his restaurant’s Instagram page shared. “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.
“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.”
“Here at La Cubana, Carl paid proud tribute to his Cuban roots each night, and it is here that Carl’s legacy, undeniable spirit and passion for his culture will live on. We hope we make you proud, Carlito.”
Some of Ruiz’s closest culinary friends have shared their grief over the loss of such a staple in the community.
“I’m heartbroken that my friend chef Carl Ruiz is gone,” Guy Fieri posted on Instagram on Sept. 22. “I have no words to describe what a great friend he was to me and my family. His ability to make me laugh and smile under any circumstances was only outshined by his talent as a chef.”
“Over the years, I’ve met a lot of great people but a friend like Carl is one in a hundred million. Carl ‘The Cuban’ Ruiz will forever live on in my heart and in those of all who loved him.”
“You taught us how to enjoy every moment to the fullest and not live wondering what if!” wrote Jet Tila. “You are gone way too soon @carlruiz ! I will always be #ruizing! You will be remembered by us all! #RIP my friend. Thank you @guyfieri for bringing Carl into all of our lives.”
“Can’t explain the profound specialness of some people,” Alex Guarnaschelli shared. “This man was somehow fatherly, comforting, wise, reckless, brilliant, wickedly funny and unique all rolled into one. My life will be lonelier without him. Love you Carl.”