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The Honorary Italiian

Dominic Rios

San Diego, CA


  • Dominic was raised in Northern California but made his way to San Diego after he graduated college and went to teach for the Teach For America program seven years ago. He currently lives alone but loves to go back up to the Bay Area to see his family because they are his ultimate taste-testers.

  • Growing up in a Mexican-American household, Christmas was an extremely important holiday--especially as it relates to food. Dominic is always proud to make his tamales during this time because it epitomizes the notion of expressing love through cooking and reinforces the important interplay that exists between family and food.

  • The true definition of a "home cook," all of Dominic's interest and training towards cooking has been self-motivated and self-taught within his home or the homes of others. Ultimately his passion for cooking--particularly Italian food--comes from his love of Italy. Dominic gained this admiration for the country because his grandfather was stationed there during the Second World War.

  • Dominic loves to look at expiration dates as just suggestions instead of rules. He knows when to tell if something he is cooking with is actually expired. Dominic prefers to make things from scratch as well as use inexpensive cuts of meat to help make his dollar stretch more in the grocery store and in the kitchen.

  • As a teacher making a small income it is very important for Dominic to cook on a budget. While he does cook expensive looking meals for his dates, Dominic knows that they have no idea that he actually didn't spend a lot of money on the food.

  • Appeared on Jeopardy! in June 2021

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