Traveling Through Gastronomic Innovation with Laura Ozyilmaz

Traveling Through Gastronomic Innovation with Laura Ozyilmaz
Traveling Through Gastronomic Innovation with Laura Ozyilmaz

Meet Laura Ozyilmaz, a Latina visionary chef whose quest for culinary excellence transcends borders and tantalizes taste buds with every dish she creates.

Originally from Acapulco, Mexico, Laura has been deeply involved in the culinary realm from a young age. Her culinary odyssey includes:the Centro Culinario Ambrosia in Mexico City, subsequently pursuing her education at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in New York. Post her tenure at CIA, Laura garnered invaluable experience at esteemed establishments such as Café Boulud and Mugaritz in San Sebastian, Spain, all the while concurrently enrolling at the Basque Culinary Center. After completing her CIA program, Laura embarked on culinary endeavors at renowned eateries like Eleven Madison Park and Del Posto in New York City. Her journey led her to the acclaimed three-Michelin-starred restaurant, Saison, in San Francisco.

As the co-owner of Dalida restaurant, nestled within the picturesque Presidio, a national park site in San Francisco, Laura invites diners on a journey of culinary exploration unlike any other. While her Mexican heritage is an integral part of her identity, Laura's culinary creations defy gastronomical creativity, drawing inspiration from the rich tapestry of flavors found in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Stepping into the private dining room is like entering a world of enchantment. Every detail captivates the senses, from the vibrant wallpaper adorned with intricate florals and birds to the subtle ambiance that seamlessly merges with the natural beauty of the Presidio surroundings. It's a harmonious blend of elegance and tranquility, setting the stage for an unforgettable dining experience.

Private Dining Room at Dalida / Photo Credit: Rafael Hernandez

During a private event with Latinx Travel Club x Presidio, Laura mentioned that people always assume that she only cooks Mexican dishes because of her heritage. She’s does love Mexican cuisine, but she wanted to make something of her own. She’s worked at prestigious restaurants all around the world and has drawn inspiration from flavors she’s experienced during her travels and studies. Because she is Mexican, it doesn’t mean she has to be confined to only cooking Mexican dishes.

At Dalida, diners are treated to a symphony of flavors that reflect Laura's diverse culinary influences, from Turkish and Greek to Armenian, Jewish, Arabic, and Persian. Each dish is a celebration of cultural fusion, inviting diners to embark on a culinary adventure that transcends geographical boundaries and transports them to distant lands with every bite. Dishes that are meant to be shared, encouraging conversation and community.

“You took me back to Turkey with these dishes. I felt like I was back there.”- Josie (guest at Latinx Travel Club x Presidio private dining). Josie has traveled to Turkey and mentioned that this is exactly what a dining experience and hospitality entails when you’re there: digging in, breaking bread, chatting about your day, and tasting the assortments of flavors and spreads.

Presidio x Latinx Travel Club at Dalida

“It’s through our discovery that we often reimagine ingredients deeply engrained in our identity and offer the chance to influence a “new taste of place” that still honors and shows appreciation for our roots.”mentioned Gabriela Fernandez, guest at the dining experience.

Photo Credit: Rafael Hernandez
The menu at Dalida is a testament to Laura's commitment to innovation and excellence, earning the restaurant accolades such as Esquire's Best New Restaurant in America and Best New Restaurant by Eater SF. From mouth watering mezes meant for sharing to exquisite entrees that showcase the best of Eastern Mediterranean cuisine, every dish at Dalida is a culinary masterpiece.
Behind the kitchen at Dalida / Photo Credit: Rafael Hernandez

As Laura continues her journey on this Season 21 of Top Chef, viewers can expect to witness her passion, creativity, and unwavering dedication to her craft shine through in every challenge. With each dish she creates, Laura invites us to explore the world through the transformative power of food, reminding us that the true beauty of cooking lies in its ability to transcend boundaries and unite us in a shared appreciation for flavor, culture, and culinary artistry.

Laura dedicates her time to various ventures including hosting private events, offering consultancy services, and instructing classes at The Culinary Institute of America on a part-time basis.

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