The Tastemaker: Martita Jara

Martita Jara has already made a name for herself. So what's next? Photo Courtesy: OWN Oprah Winfrey Network
Martita Jara has already made a name for herself. So what’s next? Photo Courtesy: OWN Oprah Winfrey Network

By Amber LaFrance

Celebrity chef and interior designer, Martita Jara, discusses growing up in the kitchen, changing networks, and how baking bread will get you lasting love.

What are three things we don’t know about you?
I am super passionate, I love when someone else cooks for me, I hate shopping unless it’s for food and wine.

Have you always wanted to be a chef?
I’ve always wanted to do something creative! I am an interior designer as well as a chef. Whether I am designing a meal or a room, it’s about understanding how shapes, textures, colors and flavors come together and creating a balance.

Favorite memory in the kitchen?
So many! I love being in the kitchen with my family, cooking, singing, dancing and drinking wine! But if I had to pick one, I was a little girl, watching my mom make flour tortillas, she makes the best tortillas!

What is your favorite dish?
I love everything and I am not allergic to anything! But my favorite is anything my mother makes. Everything she cooks makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, like a loved child!

How did you feel about being on a reality TV show and it being a competition?
It was an incredible experience! I learned so much! I am still in touch with everyone who was a part of the cast, even though we were competing against one another we really became a family and we all had each other’s backs.

What is your relationship with the Food Network now? Would you ever go back and are you looking to do any new shows in the future?
I have kept in touch with folks at Food Network and of course I will always be open to working on projects with them!

You moved from San Diego, why Dallas?
My husband has expanded his business this way and that is why we are here. He supports me in all that I do and I support him.

What are your favorite places here in Dallas and how has your experience been so far?
My favorite place would probably be Whole Foods in Highland Park since I am there about four days a week!  Everyone who works there is super nice, they know my name and I know theirs!

You are now on the OWN network, how did that come along?
Being a part of Food Network Star has opened a lot of doors for me and that is how I got a meeting with the wonderful people at OWN. Everyone there is super kind!

What is it like working with OWN? How is it different from Food Network?
I love working with OWN! I have not met a producer, lighting, makeup, cast person, etc. that has not been wonderful! I am so grateful and proud to be a part of OWN. Food Network is different I think in the sense that it is bigger, but OWN is on its way up, growing, doing so well and I love that I get to be a part of that! You know Food Network was a little guy once as well.

What is your favorite piece of advice someone has given to you during your career?
My father always has said to me “You work today as if tomorrow’s meal depended on today’s work.” My father has taught me a million things. I may write a book one day on all the things my father has taught me.

What has been the biggest challenge in your career and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge I would say is not getting discouraged, because sometimes you hear a lot of “no” in this business and I think that is true in life in general! But I just keep on hustling, I don’t complain, I am first generation in this country, we came here to work, I understand it is a blessing to have work!

You have two shows under your belt, what’s next for you?
Only God knows what is next. I just have to keep doing my part to be prepared for whatever opportunity may come my way.

Do you have plans to open a restaurant in the future? Why or why not?
I do think about that from time to time…. you know I grew up in the family restaurants, we have a small chain in Southern California. I know what it takes and I don’t know that I am ready to take that on just yet, but I know that day will come.

Why do you think food is the way to a man’s heart?
I think food is the way to everyone’s heart! Who doesn’t want to be fed something delicious! There is something so beautiful and timeless about breaking bread with those that you love. Whether I am with my man, family, friends, or even all of us together, I can’t imagine a better way to fill all of our hearts.