Executive Chef Manuel “Manny” Diaz is an industry-recognized culinary innovator. With more than 40 years of experience and mastery, Diaz has worked in some of the most acclaimed kitchens in LA including DTLA’s Pacific Grille, Nicola, Nucleus Nuance, Rudolpho’s, and the San Antonio Winery. His hard work has earned him media recognition including the Los Angeles Times, for making his food a reflection of himself; authentic, full of passion and personality. Diaz has since been honored with the Hero Award by the California State Assembly for inspiring countless through his story and his pursuit of the American Dream: emigrating from Mexico to the United States when he was only 16, he began working as a dishwasher and eventually rose through the ranks. His natural artistic ability in the kitchen and culinary expertise, makes him the perfect candidate for Santa Barbara’s next success story. Under his direction, Azul Cocina and Cantina will enrich the upper State St. area and present a rich heritage of elevated Mexican cuisine in a friendly, charming and captivating ambiance.