Chef BJ Smith
Adding a little smoke to the fiery culinary scene, Executive Chef BJ Smith has spent most of his life harnessing the craft of flavor development in fine dining.Read Bio
Ana Castro was raised in Mexico City by her grandmother, who played a crucial part in her culinary development by awakening her curiosity about not only food’s sourcing and preparation, but by showing her that a meal, however simple, can bring people together and cure whatever ails the soul. After pursuing a formal culinary education, Ana traveled from India and Europe to New York City and, ultimately, New Orleans, driven by her desire to learn from different cuisines and cultures.
Since laying down roots in New Orleans, Ana worked her way up to sous chef through nationally acclaimed kitchens in New Orleans. While there, she was a finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s 2018 Rising Star Award and, in the same year, a recipient of the coveted Ment’Or Grant, which allowed her to work for 3 months under Chef Jonathan Tam at Relae in Denmark.
In 2021, Ana opened Lengua Madre with a vision to elevate our current understanding of Mexican cuisine. Under her leadership, Lengua Madre was a semifinalist for the 2022 James Beard Foundation’s Best New Restaurant award and was included in both the New York Times’ “Restaurant List” 2021 and Bon Appetit’s “50 Best New Restaurants” 2022. She was named one of Food & Wine’s “Best New Chefs” 2022 and went on to become a 2023 finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef: South” Award. The celebrated restaurant closed its doors December 31, 2023.
Acamaya, Ana’s first solo venture as chef-owner, is slated to open in New Orleans’ Bywater neighborhood in spring 2024. The coastal Mexican seafood restaurant will feature dishes utilizing the bounty of the Gulf of Mexico in a lively, laid-back atmosphere.
Discover Chef Ana's Top Pick from the McCormick® Culinary Collection