EXCLUSIVE: Chef Lorena Garcia Talks Healthy Eating On-The-Go, Venezuelan Cuisine, And More!

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Venezuelan-born Lorena Garcia has her hands in many different pots (literally). The world-famous chef, restaurateur, TV host, and author just took on a new gig -- spokeswoman for Colgate Total Mouthwash.

Garcia, who originally wanted to pursue a career in law, is now one of the most successful Latina chefs on the planet. She's opened two restaurants (located in Miami International Airport and Atlanta International Airport), authored a cookbook, launched her own line of kitchenware with HSN, and appeared on countless TV shows -- including Top Chef All-Stars, the Biggest Loser, and America's Next Great Restaurant. 

We chatted with Garcia about healthy eating on-the-go, her recommendations for eating light while traveling, her favorite Venezuelan dishes, and her advice for learning to 'refine your palate.' Check it out:  

So, we just learned that you initially wanted to be a lawyer -- not a chef! 

That's correct! I went to law school, and I remember that I got a job offer at a huge law firm. I almost went into a panic attack. I feared that I would be in an office all day. So, you know, it was fantastic attending law school. I think it helped me to think logically. But, my passion was not in law. I always loved entertaining and cooking. So, I traded my books for a set of knives, and started cooking! 

Wow! What was your family's reaction?

Well, my mom thought I was crazy! She said, "How can you want to be peeling potatoes, cutting onions, and smelling like food all day?" That's exactly what I wanted! I knew that if I had any chance at being successful, it would have to be with something that I absolutely loved and was passionate about. 

What inspired your love of cooking? 

My mom! I mean, my mom is an amazing cook! I remember making her a surprise when I was six-years-old, and I did this picnic on the floor of my living room. When my mom woke up, my kitchen was, of course, a disaster. But, I had the most beautiful picnic in the middle of the living room. I remember that was my first meal. So yes, I've always loved to cook. I would always find an excuse to invite my friends from school to the house, so I would make a big feast for everybody. My mother was an amazing cook. Some of my great recipes I stole from her.

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Cristina Arreola, Editorial Assistant

Originally from El Paso, Texas, Cristina Mari Arreola earned her degree at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University before moving to BrooklynNew York. In her downtime, you can usually find her scouring the city for the most authentic Mexican food (still looking...), scaring herself silly watching horror movies, or baking her favorite sweets. You can follow her on Twitter at @c_arreola

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