Cooking is who I am, says Southern Indiana chef Roza Segoviano

by | People, Q&A

One of the most prominent executive chefs in Southern Indiana, Rozalind “Roza” Segoviano owns six restaurants with her Mexican-born husband, Juan. Together, they oversee a growing regional restaurant empire, Viva Hospitality Group, that includes Sleepy Rooster Kitchen and other Mexican establishments in Southern Indiana and Louisville, including La Catrina, Senor Iguanas, El Catrin and Don Juan Taqueria. Roza’s dedication to providing tasty Latin American food resonates through the dishes she creates and the community endeavors she spearheads.

What made you want to become a chef? 

Growing up, I was blessed to have a mother and grandmother who prepared home-cooked food. My first job was at a local pizzeria run by an Italian family. By the time I was sixteen, they had tasked me with running the weekend buffet. I had my kitchen with a separate dining room for the buffet. I was so proud to be responsible for all of that. The buffet was popular with local sports leagues, private parties and events. I remember peeking into the dining room, seeing people celebrate and enjoying the food I prepared. Then I realized food’s vital role in our memories, and I was hooked. I knew I wanted to cook for others for the rest of my life. Cooking isn’t just what I do; it’s who I am. 

What is your favorite type of food and why? 

Spicy food! Soul-stirring heat. The hotter the better. Mexican cuisine is my passion, but I also enjoy Thai, Vietnamese and other Southeast Asian foods. 

Where do you get your inspiration?

Inspiration can come from a lot of places. I primarily draw from my travels, seeing how locals eat and cook with their native ingredients. Anyone who aspires to be a chef should travel as much as possible and taste everything! 

If you could eat anywhere in the world, where would that be, and what would you eat?

The Yucatan in Mexico, where the ancient Mayan culture and food traditions are alive and well. My absolute favorite thing to eat there is Tikin Xic. It’s a whole snapper butterflied and rubbed with achiote and sour orange adobo, then grilled over an open fire, often right on the beach. It’s a meal served with pickled onions and fiery habanero salsa and best enjoyed under a palapa by the ocean waves, perfect for sharing with loved ones. 

What items are always in your fridge? 

Eggs. They are so versatile and nutrient rich. We eat eggs at all hours at my house. There are endless ways to prepare eggs. I also always have tomatillos and serrano peppers. 

If you could choose a favorite place in Indiana to visit, where would that be located and what would you eat? 

We like spending time in Indianapolis. I adore a good brunch but haven’t made it to Milktooth yet. I will indeed have a Dutch Baby because there aren’t too many restaurants that serve them.

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