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How Chef Nancy Salazar Celebrates Her Heritage Through Food and Family

In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15, 2021), we are recognizing some of Morrison Healthcare’s amazing chefs with Hispanic or Latinx heritage. By sharing their stories and culture, we can come together through food, family, and community.

It’s all about family.

Nancy Salazar grew up in Los Angeles, but it may be more accurate to say she grew up in the kitchen. Many of her earliest memories surround food, particularly her grandmother’s cooking.

Chef Nancy Salazar cooking with her mother and grandmother, celebrating food and family.
Chef Nancy Salazar enjoys cooking with her mother and grandmother.

“Whenever I would visit my grandmother, I would love cooking her recipes,” said Nancy Salazar, traveling executive chef, Morrison Healthcare. “It was an important part of my childhood and it’s still something I enjoy.”

Her Mexican heritage shows in the cooking that is closest to her heart. She recalls watching her grandmother spend hours making her delicious mole sauce, perfected with calculated spoon movements and a signature recipe.

Now, Salazar is an active participant in preparing food for family gatherings. Only a few weeks ago, she found herself in the kitchen with both her grandmother and mother. Three generations cooking together, sharing laughter and love in the kitchen.

“My love language is cooking. It is how I express myself and my heritage.”

Salazar has embraced her heritage but is putting her own twist on the classics. Recognizing the importance of a plant-based diet on health and wellness, she is experimenting with vegan recipes.

“At first, I didn’t think my grandmother would approve, but she loved what I was doing. She even helped and gave some suggestions on a vegan version of her mole sauce. Working with her on recipes has been a special time for me. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Even with the time in her grandmother’s kitchen, she didn’t start out confident in her cooking. Her career at Morrison Healthcare began as a dishwasher, but she jumped into the role with her characteristic zeal. Within three months, she realized the depth of her passion for food. That started her on a journey of learning.

Fast forward six years and she is bringing her heritage and expertise as a traveling executive chef for Morrison Healthcare in Ventura, California. Salazar credits Morrison Healthcare with helping her to grow her career by providing training and mentorship opportunities.

“If you seek it, the opportunities are there. It’s something I truly love about Morrison Healthcare.”

Food serves as an opportunity as well. It is an opportunity to share experiences and culture. It is an opportunity to bring people together, regardless of background.

“We can disagree on many things, but we can still sit together and bond by just eating and enjoying a meal.”

That’s the power of food. A lesson Nancy Salazar learned from an early age from her family and a heritage she continues to share with everyone who tries her cooking.

If you’d like to experience Chef Salazar’s heritage, you can try one of her signature dishes. Here is her recipe for Vegan Pozole Rojo:

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