Carl Ruiz, a television celebrity chef and restaurateur, has died, his Manhattan restaurant La Cubana said on social media on Sunday. He was 44.
Mr. Ruiz made frequent appearances on the Food Network as a competitive chef and celebrity judge. He opened restaurants around the world, his most recent being La Cubana, which opened in the Chelsea neighborhood in June. The restaurant serves authentic Cuban food and pays tribute to Mr. Ruiz’s Cuban roots. He was its executive chef and owner.
“On behalf of the La Cubana family, with heavy hearts, we are deeply saddened to share the passing of our beloved Executive Chef Carl Ruiz,” an Instagram post from the restaurant said. “No words can fully express our sadness at the sudden loss of our dear friend and brother.”
The restaurant promised to honor Mr. Ruiz’s memory by establishing a scholarship foundation for aspiring chefs.
La Cubana did not immediately return a request for comment on Sunday.
Mr. Ruiz graduated from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York and made a name for himself interviewing chefs on Sirius XM Radio before building a successful television and radio career, according to La Cubana’s website.
Friends, colleagues and fans mourned Mr. Ruiz’s death on Sunday.
Guy Fieri, another Food Network restaurateur, said on Twitter that he was heartbroken by Mr. Ruiz’s death. “His ability to make me laugh and smile under any circumstances was only outshined by his talent as a chef,” Mr. Fieri said.
“Over the years, I’ve met a lot of great people but a friend like Carl is one in a hundred million,” he added.
Matt Farah, who hosts a YouTube series about cars called “The Smoking Tire,” said he first met Mr. Ruiz two years ago. Mr. Farah heard the chef say on a radio show that he liked “The Smoking Tire,” and Mr. Farah called in to the show to respond.
“We literally became friends live on the radio, instantly exchanged phone numbers, started hanging out,” Mr. Farah said.
Mr. Ruiz attended Mr. Farah’s wedding in April.
“He was dancing with everybody, 20 people, none of whom really knew him,” he said.
At the after-party, Mr. Ruiz ordered $300 worth of Domino’s pizza and explained to people how, compared with fancier pizzas, Domino’s was “just as important for our culture.”
Troy Johnson, a food critic and judge on several Food Network shows, said on Twitter that Mr. Ruiz “made people laugh who’d forgotten how to laugh.”
“He set rooms on fire,” Mr. Johnson wrote. “He was the match and the kerosene.”
Mihir Zaveri contributed reporting.