Daisy Maria Martinez was born to mainland Puerto Rican parents in Brooklyn, N.Y., where she 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 also grew up appreciating the diversity of Latin cuisine.
Prior to entering the food world, Daisy was an actress and model. She became the "Martinez Valero" Girl (no relation) when the Spanish shoe company decided to compete with Italy in the American market. Daisy was also featured in American commercials for several products, including Ford, and in Spanish-language commercials for AT&T. In addition, she has appeared in several movies, including Carlito's Way and Scent of a Woman.
Daisy met her husband, Jerry, while attending Long Island University. After marrying, Daisy dedicated herself to raising her family, for whom she often hosted festive gatherings with delicious food.
In 1998, Daisy matriculated at the French Culinary Institute, where she won first prize for her final project, "The Passionate Palate." Shortly after graduation, Daisy worked on the set of PBS' Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen as a prep-kitchen chef and as a private chef in New York City, which she did for three years. In addition, Daisy managed a small catering business, The Passionate Palate, which she continues to operate.
As the host of the very popular PBS series Daisy Cooks!, Daisy has become a familiar face in many households, and is a regular contributor to Every Day with Rachael Ray, Siempre Mujer and Reader's Digest's Selecciones magazines. She is often featured as a guest on popular TV shows all over the country, and travels throughout the USA and abroad for cooking demonstrations and book signings. Her show Viva Daisy! premiered on Food Network in January 2009.
While celebrating life and family through food, Daisy is also intensely proud of her Puerto Rican heritage and is very active in the Latino community, where she visits schools as a featured speaker and participates in philanthropic events. Daisy's embrace of her cultural roots and knowledge of the broad spectrum of Latin cuisine are vividly communicated through Daisy Cooks!, the show, and her popular first cookbook, Daisy Cooks! Latin Flavors That Will Rock Your World (Hyperion 2005), an IACP nominee and winner of the Best Latino Cuisine Cookbook in the World by the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.