After two years of running the popular Meso-American pop-up Chicomecóatl, executive chef Maricela Vega brings her plant-based, Mexican inspired cuisine to 8ARM. The daughter of Guanajuato, Mexico immigrants, Vega frequently visited the small village and watched her grandparents grow and harvest corn on the land they owned, planting seeds for her future inspiration to support small, local farms. Without any professional training, Vega’s humble beginnings started in the kitchen with her mother at a very young age. After studying international law for two years, Vega switched paths and began her culinary career in Atlanta at the Tierra restaurant, and went onto build at different restaurants until refining her initial skill set at Empire State South. After a trip to Mexico, Vega decided to quit her job to make handcrafted tamales upon her return to the states. This idea turned into the well-known Meso-American pop-up, Chicomecóatl, named after the Aztec goddess of agriculture and maíz. It is in this pop-up that Vega featured her celebrated tamales and authentic Mexican cuisine, while embracing vegetable-centric dishes. Since March of this year, the 2018 Eater Award winner has been serving as executive chef of 8ARM. Not only does she give tribute to Mexican cuisine, but she explores her two sous chef’s roots in the kitchen, incorporating Duy Huynh’s Vietnamese and Yola Ksiazczykand’s Polish backgrounds. Vega is dedicated to working with local farmers to use in-season ingredients, serve fresh flavors and create an ever-changing menu focused on vegetable-forward cuisine at 8ARM. To follow along chef Vega's journey, follow 8ARM on Facebook and Instagram!