A Brooklyn, N.Y., native born to mainland Puerto Rican parents, Daisy Maria Martinez lived at her grandmother’s house until she was almost 5 years old. Between her grandmother Valentina and her mother, Conchita, Daisy learned that the kitchen is the happiest room in the household, filled with love, family and delicious food. With an extended family of relatives from Central America, Spain and other parts of the Spanish-speaking world, Daisy grew up appreciating the diversity of Latin cuisine.
Prior to entering the food world, Daisy was an actress and model, appearing in projects ranging from print ads for Spanish shoe company Martinez Valero, to American and Spanish-language commercials for products such as Ford and AT&T, and movie roles, including Carlito’s Way and Scent of a Woman.
While attending Long Island University, she met her husband, Dr. Jerry Lombardo. After marrying, Daisy dedicated herself to raising her family, for whom she often hosted festive gatherings featuring delicious food – a tradition that she happily continues to this day.
As a surprise birthday gift, Daisy’s husband sent her to cooking school – a dream that Daisy had always wanted to pursue. In 1998 she matriculated at the French Culinary Institute, where she won first prize for her final project, “The Passionate Palate.” Shortly after graduation, Daisy worked as a prep-kitchen chef on the set of PBS’ Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen, a private chef in New York City and as the owner of a small catering business, also called “The Passionate Palate.”
In 2005 Daisy launched her new career with Daisy Cooks! on PBS and her cookbook, Daisy Cooks! Latin Flavors that Will Rock Your World, which was an IACP nominee and winner of the Best Latino Cuisine Cookbook in the World by the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.
As Daisy's star ascended she met the iconic Rachael Ray at an event. This chance meeting led to Ray's production company, Watch Productions, producing Viva Daisy!, which debuted on Food Network in January 2009. The show continued her focus on celebrating life and family through food, while demonstrating her knowledge of the broad spectrum of Latin cuisine. In addition to her TV show, Daisy is also a regular columnist for Every Day with Rachael Ray and Selecciones magazines.
Intensely proud of her Puerto Rican heritage, Daisy is very active in the Latino community and with many philanthropic endeavors. To date, just a few of her honors and activities include: Latinas Unidas in Rochester, N.Y., and The Committee for Hispanic Children and Families; mistress of ceremonies for The American Cancer Society Gala/Brooklyn Chapter and judge for the Street Vendor Project’s Vendy Awards; the promotion of more fresh food in corner stores through her heartfelt essay and recipe for the Bodega Party in a Box; working with the New York Fire Department Museum Cook-Off, March of Dimes/ Chicago Chapter, Easter Seals Miami/Dade County Chapter; and appearing at numerous career days at schools all over New York City.
A dedicated mother of four fantastic children, Daisy and her family reside in Brooklyn, N.Y.