Chef Mary Ellen Diaz
Executive Chef at Alma Bea
Meet Chef Mary Ellen Diaz
Mary Ellen grew up in Alexandria, Virginia. On her mother’s side, she comes out of Charleston, West Virginia. She learned a lot about Appalachian cooking from her Great Aunt Gladys. She trained in Paris and Lyon, and worked with Michel Trama in Agen, France. She has been Executive Chef at a number of restaurants in Chicago, and created the concept for North Pond restaurant. She was also the corporate Chef for Lettuce Entertain You. She currently operates First Slice cafes in Chicago, a social entrepreneurial business. With Alma Bea, in the quaint town of Shepherdstown, West Virginia, Mary Ellen returns to her West Virginian roots.
About Alma Bea
The focus of Alma Bea is on the food traditions of generations of Appalachian families, reimagined and recreated by Mary Ellen and her talented staff. “I have long been fascinated by the cuisines that result when the food traditions of people from different places mingle,” Diaz said. “Appalachian cuisine is also inspiring to me as a way to honor the hardworking people who came before us, who built a culture and community out of this mountainous region. Appalachian mountain cuisine is the story about the adventurous folks who came to this region to create lives for their families, bringing with them many food traditions from their families and homelands.”