Ronaldo Linares

RONALDO LINARES is a Cuban/Colombian/American, salsa-dancing, MMA-fighting, former US Marine, classically trained chef and restaurateur living his dream.

Passion infuses everything Ronaldo does – as CEO of Ronaldo’s Cocina and Executive Chef of Martino’s Cuban in Somerville, NJ, to speaking to youth groups and corporations about his personal journey to stepping on to the mat to compete as a NAGA (grappling) fighter.

Born in Colombia during the turbulent Cartel wars of the 1980s, cooking has been the main ingredient in Ronaldo’s journey from young immigrant to rebellious teen to successful chef and media personality.

Ronaldo’s cuisine is Rustic/Refined drawing inspiration from the traditional dishes of his Colombian mother, an accomplished home cook, and his Cuban father, a French trained chef.

While he first honed his knife skills as a teen clocking long hours in his family’s restaurant, Ronaldo’s “food voice” began to take shape while he was a Sergeant and Food Service Specialist in the Marines, serving 6000 men daily. There he learned about regional American food and began to infuse it with his Cuban sazon.

Following the Marines, Ronaldo enrolled in ICE (Institute for Culinary Education) in New York City, graduating with high honors. He credits his time in the Marines and at ICE with expanding his palate and opening his mind to experimentation with new flavor profiles.

Ronaldo’s recipes are naturally healthy and flavorful. While in training for NAGA he only cuts out refined carbohydrates (and his beloved arepas) and feasts on the nutrient dense, protein rich deliciousness of his signature Ropa Vieja, Adobo-Rubbed Flank Steak, Pernil and Sancocho.

Ronaldo has showcased his Cuban-inspired, passion-infused culinary style on Food Network’s Chopped, BBC America’s cross-country chef competition “Chef Race,” and appearances on Better TV, Fox News and Telemundo. He is a popular featured chef at live events including the Food Network’s “Food & Wine Festival,” the International Restaurant and Food Service Show and guest lectures at ICE.

When not in the kitchen, Ronaldo is active in the community, speaking to schools, youth groups and corporations about his life journey and is a proud supporter of HISPA.org (Hispanics Inspiring Students Performance and Achievement) and QSAC (Quality Services for the Autism Community) and has donated his time and resources to New Jersey Advocacy Network to End Homelessness and the Jersey Battered Women’s Community.

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