Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Television celebrity chef Carl Ruiz has died, according to his Manhattan restaurant La Cubana. He was 44.
"On behalf of the La Cubana family, with heavy hearts, we are deeply saddened to share the passing of our beloved Executive Chef Carl Ruiz," La Cubana said on Instagram. "No words can fully express our sadness at the sudden loss of our dear friend and brother."
The restaurant did not mention a cause of death.
During his 25 years in the restaurant industry, Ruiz opened restaurants the world over and gained celebrity status following frequent guest appearances on The Food Network as a competitive chef and celebrity judge, according to his biography posted on La Cubana.
The restaurant said he had a larger-than-life personality and a "fierce intellect" and was "a mighty force of down home Cuban cuisine, and lived life to the fullest, just as he cooked."
The restaurant said to honor his memory, it would establish The Carl Ruiz Scholarship Foundation for aspiring chefs.
"You are already missed," the restaurant said. "Rest easy."
As news of Ruiz's death traveled through the restaurant scene, his friends took to social media in mourning.
Restaurateur Guy Fieri said he was "heartbroken that my friend chef Carl Ruiz is gone."
"I have no words to describe what a great friend he was to me and my family," Fieri said via Twitter. "His ability to make me laugh and smile under any circumstances was only outshined by his talent as a chef."
Celebrity chef Jet Tila posted pictures of himself with Ruiz on Twitter, saying the Cuban-American chef taught him "to enjoy every moment to the fullest and not live wondering what if!"
"I will always be Ruizing," he said, adding a note of thanks to Fieri for having introduced him to Ruiz.
Alex Guarnaschelli, chef, author and host of The Food Network's Supermarket Stakeout, described Ruiz as fatherly, comforting, reckless and wise.
"My life will be lonelier without him," she said. "Love you Carl. I'll make sure no one puts pineapple on pizza best I can without you here."