Chef Dana Rodriguez
Owner & Executive Chef of Work & Class Super Mega Bien / Catina Loca. Executive Chef / Partner at Casa Bonita.
If you met Dana Rodriguez on the street, you’d never know that she grew up on a farm without any running water or electricity, or that she helped her mother grind corn down to masa to make tortillas almost every day at mealtime in her native city, Chihuahua. Indeed, Dana has made quite a journey.
After vacationing and visiting family in Colorado twenty years ago, Dana decided to stay in the state and applied for a job at Panzano, an upscale Italian restaurant in the Hotel Monaco. It was there she met Jennifer Jasinski, the chef who took Dana under her wing, focused on her strong work ethic and intelligence, and helped to develop Dana into the talented chef she is today. From dishwasher to prep cook, through pasta making and the bakeshop, and finally as a sous chef at Panzano, Dana worked her way through the ranks learning from Jasinski and others the skills necessary to excel at each job and how to manage staff.
Dana continued working with Jasinski and her partner, Beth Gruitch, for many years, going on to become a sous chef at Rioja and Chef de Cuisine at Bistro Vendome. It was in these roles that Dana learned what it was to truly run a kitchen.
In late 2012, Dana’s path crossed with Tony again (Tony and Dana had been friends for nearly fifteen years, since the days of Panzano), who offered her the Executive Chef role and a piece of equity in what was to become Work & Class. In both 2015 and 2016, Dana received nominations in the Best Chef Southwest category by the James Beard Foundation for her work at Work & Class. A follow-up to Work and Class and Super Mega Bien, Cantina Loca is the culmination of over two decades of experience in all areas of hospitality in Denver, along with the unique positioning of the Doña Loca brand of premium agave spirits.
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