Amalia Moreno-Damgaard is an internationally recognized, award-winning bestselling author and chef, and seasoned entrepreneur born and raised in Guatemala City with a prior career in trade finance and banking. She provides individuals and companies with a taste and understanding of Latin culture’s nuances through healthy gourmet cuisine and culture education. Amalia shares her passion through consulting, bilingual speaking engagements, writing, and culinary experiences. Her first book, “Amalia’s Guatemalan Kitchen, Gourmet Cuisine with a Cultural Flair,” has won nine international awards, including the prestigious Gourmand World Cookbook Award for Best Foreign Cuisine Book USA. She is now working on her second book.
Style and Formation:
At the core, Amalia’s style is fresh, practical, healthy, and proudly Latin American – blending pre-Columbian and classic French techniques with her Mayan-Spanish roots. Amalia’s education and experience from her upbringing in Guatemala, as well as her professional formation and practice in the United States, provides her a distinctive approach to Latin culture and cuisine. Through years of training and growth, she adopted her own unique style, fusing Latin flavors with a variety of the influences she received throughout her life, from the most rustic to the refined, and has created and developed new fresh and modern concepts along the way. Amalia is continuously learning and striving to reach new culinary heights through research and development of new trends and studying food anthropology.
Amalia’s Passion for Cooking and Business:
Her passion for Latin culture and cuisine rose from her childhood in Guatemala, where her close-knit relationship with her maternal grandmother taught her simple and healthy artisan cooking using local organic ingredients, and from her determination to bridge the knowledge gap of Latin American culture in the United States. After moving to America shortly after high school, she pursued and established a career in international banking, reaching executive-level leadership while she earned an Executive Masters in International Business from St. Louis University, which provided her with critical business skills and context for how businesses grow and succeed. After experiencing success in the banking industry, Amalia re-focused her career and pursued the culinary industry, graduating and serving on the Board of Directors of Le Cordon Bleu Alumni Association and founding Amalia LLC.
Brand Consulting and Culinary Experiences:
Amalia partners with brands to build strategies around the Latin culture, connecting companies with the Latin market effectively through consulting and coaching, custom projects and programs, speaking engagements and bilingual writing, and cooking experiences. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional organizations and business groups, nonprofits, universities, and more. In addition to brand consulting, Amalia provides custom culinary instruction for corporations on-site and at kitchens all over the Twin Cities. She has taught at Macy’s, Cooks of Crocus Hill, Kitchen Window, the Arboretum and Byerly’s, among other venues.
International Media Recognition and Global Travel:
Since the inception of her company, Amalia has been recognized internationally on printed media and television, from the United States to Guatemala, Spain, and beyond. She is a bilingual contributing writer to publications including Latino American Today, Revue Magazine, Siglo21, and El Minnesota de Hoy on the topics of culinary trends, healthy cooking techniques, history and culture, and fun experiences and recipes from her worldwide travels.
Having traveled to 70 countries (and counting) around the world, Amalia has enjoyed learning about each culture specifically while becoming immersed in day-to-day activities including visiting anthropology/history museums and sites, taking the time to shop and learn at open-air markets, touring vineyards and coffee plantations in ancient villages, dining everywhere from traditional eateries to upscale restaurants, indulging in food and wine tasting journeys, visiting and cooking with local cooks and chefs to learn their culture’s culinary nuances, and gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation for culinary styles and cultural traditions of different regions. She shares her insight through writing, speaking, brand consulting, and culinary instruction.
Philanthropy and Social Responsibility:
Giving back has always been at the forefront of Amalia’s activities, having supported a variety of nonprofits for many years. Amalia has had an economic impact of hundreds of thousands of dollars through fundraising, charitable donations, as well as time and talent. In addition to her involvement with Le Cordon Bleu, Amalia is on the Executive Board of Directors of two non-profit organizations including Common Hope, which promotes hope and opportunity in Guatemala through education, healthcare, and housing; and DepartSmart, which focuses on providing education for keeping international students safe abroad. She also is president emeritus and co-founder of Women Entrepreneurs of Minnesota (WeMN.org), a nonprofit that fosters women entrepreneurship through networking, leadership education, and mentoring. Amalia has been a mentor to aspiring women entrepreneurs through WeMN, Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal, and TeamWomenMN, and is a member of National Speakers Association (NSA), Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI), and the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
Amalia lives in the Twin Cities with her husband Kenn (whose Danish origins add another cultural dimension to Amalia’s kitchen), and their son Jens. She adores animals, especially Tigresa and Guapo, her two cats.
Fish, to taste right, must swim three times: in water, in butter and in wine (Polish Proverb)