Well-known Victoria chef dies of COVID-19

The chef worked at almost every restaurant in Victoria, known for helping places get their start before moving on to another kitchen. 

VICTORIA, Texas – Chef Charlie Lara died at the age of 56 last week after suffering from COVID-19. 

The chef worked at almost every restaurant in Victoria, known for helping places get their start before moving on to another kitchen. 

“Different restaurants that he would open and help people out, get them started, and ones that he started like, Abby’s Cafe,” said Abby Lara, the chef’s daughter.

Bobby Treviño, a Victoria resident whose family owned the now-shuttered Siesta Restaurant, said Chef Charlie Lara worked at El Toro for Treviño’s brother Richard, Maggie’s Restaurant and Deli, and the Hanging Tree in Goliad.

Robert Rodriquez, a chef himself and owner of Robert’s Eatery and Bakeshop, which closed a few years ago, described Lara as a great guy.

“We never worked together but always I respected him,” Rodriquez said. “Especially when it came to the restaurants, it’s a hard business to get into but he always survived. He was a father and grandfather that had to be there for his children and grandchild and his wife had passed away. It’s hard to be a parent by yourself and support your family.”

Lara lives in Denton and said she is thankful for the time they spent together over the holidays. 

“He just, he told me he had so much fun reconnecting with everybody,” Lara said. He would always tell us stories and how he was in a band, him and a couple of the guys would make songs and they would just have a good time and he actually got to see some of his friends and it really made him happy.”

Lara signed his name the same way each time. 

“Even when he signed my notes for school and everything, it was never just Charlie Lara,” Lara said. “It was Chef Charlie Lara, or he’d introduce himself to my fiance’s family, ‘My name is Chef Charlie Lara,’ it was never just Charlie, it was always Chef.”

Known for his Jack Daniels pecan pie and tomato basil soup, Lara said she hopes to keep his cooking alive.

“We’re all going to band together as a family and think about how, because he never measured anything so it’s not like it would be an exact recipe anyways,” Lara said. “But we can kind of guess and put two and two together.”

Russell Mora, the owner of Burdogz Bar and Grill, which is temporarily closed until COVID-19 hospitalization rates go back down, says Lara was a great addition to their kitchen. 

“He brought a lot of wisdom into the kitchen and everyone that knew him, knew he was a good guy,” Mora said. “We’re really going to miss him and we ask everybody in Victoria to stay safe and stay home if they can and wash your hands.”

Abby said her father would want people to remain positive even in dark times.