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'Delicioso' Host Maggie Jimenez Cooked Up A Career From A Love Of Food

VOXXI  |  By Daysi Calavia-Lopez

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Posted: 10/17/2013 11:21 am EDT

For Maggie Jimenez food was not always the focus of her career.

The Mexican television personality and co-host of Univision’s “Delicioso,” a Spanish-language cooking and lifestyle show, originally did modeling and went on to appear on television conducting a sports segment. She later discovered her love for cooking when she married and moved to England.

“I traveled around with a red bottle and a green bottle,” she said. “At all times, I carried tabasco salsa in my purse, the green one is the jalapeño one,” she laughs. “I needed that spice!”

Jimenez missed eating traditional Mexican dishes so much that she smuggled a pasote plant into London. “Pasote is a herb that gives a very unique, special and strong flavor to the food. I brought it into London, undocumented,” Jimenez said. “I planted it and started cooking meals at home.”

But Jimenez was no novice in the kitchen, her grandmother taught her how to cook at an early age.

“Through cooking I grew up,” she said. “My grandmother cooked all day long and for everybody, for my sisters, for my cousin, for the neighbor, for whoever! I still remember all the stories she told me while we cooked, about the food and the history of the different dishes.”

Now, Jimenez is sharing those stories not only with her two young daughters but with the rest of America. She’s recently partnered with NesCafe and has a working relationship with the brand Maseca, best-known for its cooking oil. On Maseca’s website, Jimenez offers cooking tips and recipes. She’s also a staple on “Despierta America,” Univision’s morning show, where she regularly conducts a cooking segment.

“I never thought it was a career because I thought of cooking as my hobby and my therapy,” said Jimenez. “But I did the show “¡Qué Sabor!” and then another show and another, and now I’m here and I love it. Soy cocinera de Corazón!“

Maggie Jimenez on cooking healthy Latino food

Maggie Jimenez, who has had no formal culinary training and considers herself a chef at heart, has worked in Los Angeles and San Diego as the Spanish-language spokesperson for First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Una California Saludable” health campaign aimed at diminishing obesity in children. “It was a great opportunity; I was able to talk to real people and find out their needs,” she said.

“Many Hispanic parents feel guilt because they don’t think they are passing down enough of their culture to their kids.”

Jimenez hopes to help parents deal with those types of concerns by showing parents easy ways to engage their children in fast, fun and healthy cooking activities.

“Just like my grandma did with me, I like to cook with my daughters and tell them some of the same stories my grandma told me. In that way, I pass down our culture to them,” Jimenez said. “I also like to make it so that we’re all speaking in Spanish because I think preserving the language is also very important .”

Despite Jimenez’s suggestions, many of the Hispanic parents she encountered noted lack of time and financial resources as the main reasons why they couldn’t provide healthier meals to their families.

“I’ve come up with small ways that parents can start making changes at home for instance instead of using manteca they can switch it for canola oil,” she said. “I try to tell them ‘hey we can make the same recipes but let’s make some small changes.’”

Jimenez believes Latinos have to eat healthier, and they can start by making lifestyle changes.

“As parents we have to set the example.” she said.

“As Hispanics we have to hold on strong to our culture but we can do that and still be healthy. I know this is something Latinos care about because we care so much about our kids and want what’s best for them.”