The Dallas restaurant community is mourning the loss Luis Dominguez, 38, a chef who made a name for himself behind the scenes. He was known for his talent, hard work and overall kindness. Dominguez, who had an underlying health condition, died due to complications from the coronavirus last week.
"One thing, in particular, I'm going to miss is his positive attitude, he always kept everyone happy especially in this industry when you work under a lot of stress," said his best friend, Jerry de la Riva, who is also a chef and is the owner and culinary director of ELEMENTS by de la Riva.
The two met nearly 12 years ago and worked at Tillman's in Oak Cliff in the kitchen. He said they became best friends and helped each other out over the years as they each grew into their careers.
"He was the chef behind the chef and he didn’t want, he didn’t like the spotlight. He was always behind the curtains he didn’t like spotlight at all," said de la Riva.
Dominguez worked at Smoke, alongside award-winning chef Tim Byres. Most recently he worked at HG Sply Co. for the last three years as the executive sous chef.
“Aside from his culinary ability, he was just a great guy. He’s the kind of person that you would want to lead your staff," said Danyele McPherson, culinary director for 80/20 Hospitality, the group which represents HG Sply Co.
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"Everybody is so wrapped up in the new trend or what the celebrity chef is doing, or just whatever and they stop thinking aboug the people actually making it happen everyday and that’s absolutely who Luis was," said McPherson. "Luis is the one that is cooking the food at HG Dallas everyday, he’s making the schedule, doing the orders, making sure everything is coming out the kitchen correctly, he’s making sure that you don’t wait a long time on your meal."
She said an example of kindness was when Dominguez bought shoes for another employee who didn't have the proper attire on because he couldn't afford them.
"That’s just the kind of guy he was, it was never too great of a challenge for hi to help somebody else before he would help himself," McPherson said.
Around the 4th of July, Dominguez went to the hospital after not feeling well. He had COVID-19 and spent his final weeks of life at Parkland Hospital where he battled the virus.
According to de la Riva, at one point Dominguez told him he was feeling a little better, which was a relief, but suddenly things took a turn for the worse.
"He had issues or trouble to breathe. I know that because we were talking and texting on the phone," said de la Riva.
He said he never heard from his friend again because Dominguez was placed on life support on July 17, and died on July 22.
"It's still hurtful, we still mourning the loss, we're just trying to go by and just remember him as he was, just a really happy person, he touched many lives and just keeping him in our memories to just to keep him alive with us," de la Riva said.
"I honestly, I couldn’t believe it , I was shocked, he was only 38 years old, a wonderful man, hard working guy, warm hearted guy and I was just shocked first and then very sad," said Tracy Mackay who worked with Dominguez at Smoke.
Dominguez leaves behind a wife and family in Mexico he was helping support.
They have set up a Go Fund Me account to help Dominguez's family pay for the medical and funeral costs.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.