Mama Laura Is Part Of Des Moines’ Culinary Duo

Laura Rodriguez, mother of Proof’s executive chef Diego Rodriguez, created her own food concept, Mamá Laura’s Meals, which creates authentic Mexican fare, like birria and tortillas.

Writer: Karla Walsh

Although Diego Rodriguez and his mother, Laura, didn’t cook together when he was growing up, they’ve been able to make up for lost time recently—and recently in the Proof restaurant kitchen where Diego is now the executive chef.

Diego, 23, was born in Mexico, and Laura moved to the United States 22 years ago to support her family. Diego joined her in 2007, and in the meantime, honed his own culinary skills with his grandma, using that background in his Des Moines culinary career. (Learn about his story in this feature from our March/April 2020 issue.)

“I have always been proud of Diego,” Laura says. “He was working under chef Sean [Wilson, former executive chef of Proof], and one day he tells me he is the chef in charge, and I couldn’t believe it. From that point on, I have been impressed by every single menu and every dish he creates.”

Laura is a talented cook herself, but put that passion on the back burner to pursue other careers. As a restaurant manager, her hours were cut in March 2020 because of the pandemic, so she decided to launch Mamá Laura’s Meals out of her certified home kitchen. Since then, she’s been growing a loyal following with frequent pop-ups, where her tortas, birria and tamales are top sellers.

It’s clearly catching on. When Diego invited Mamá Laura to join him for one of Proof’s biweekly pandemic takeout events in early February, the dynamic duo sold out both days. I was lucky enough to order early and sample nearly everything on the menu. I can’t recommend the warmly spiced, yet not-too-hot braised beef birria enough. And any time the sweet and tangy requesón cheesecake is on the menu, you must order a slice or two.

“It was like working with myself, but on steroids,” Diego says with a laugh, reflecting on the weekend. “I learned so much from my mother; she always has so much to teach me!”

Diego and Laura plan to team up again for a Proof pop-up with even more desserts, and in the meantime, she’ll be hosting her own to-go feasts as her schedule allows. These are often every weekend, but you can keep up with the latest, find menu details, and learn how to place an order on Instagram.

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