Culinary Council

Santana Diaz

Director of Culinary Operations & Innovation / Executive Chef

UC Davis Health Sacramento, California

Seasonal. Local. Creative. These words fully define the passion and characteristics that guide Executive Chef Santana Diaz. Chef Diaz’s vision has always been to bring a true farm-to-fork, restaurant-style culinary experience to all facets of every food venue that he has had the privilege to lead. Chef Diaz joined UC Davis Health in late 2017 after setting up and executing the Golden 1 Center (home to the NBA Sacramento Kings) food program with the most successful farm-to-fork production in sports. His drive to create an impactful program via healthcare intrigued him and offered him more opportunity to work with local farmers and ranchers. Today Diaz oversees one of the largest production kitchens in the region – serving more than 6,500 meals a day – and has transformed standard hospital food into sustainable, healthy, delicious eating for patients, employees, and the shared community. His experience with fine- dining restaurants and hotel management in the California Bay Area, coupled with large-volume sports and entertainment work, have given Diaz the opportunity to bring the high-volume “eats” to a healthier platform – while not losing the most important aspect of the meals: taste.

Culinary Tips

Use potatoes as a natural starch binder when creating whole food, plant-based entrees to keep your recipes “clean” and free of unnecessary additives.