Guy Fieri is among the many fellow celebrity chefs paying tribute to Food Network star Carl Ruiz, whose sudden death at the age of 44 was announced over the weekend by his La Cubana restaurant. The Cuban-American chef and restaurateur appeared on shows including "Guy's Ranch Kitchen" and "Guy's Grocery Games," where he was both a winner and a judge, USA Today reports. "I'm 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 tweeted. "His ability to make me laugh and smile under any circumstances was only outshined by his talent as a chef."
Ruiz, a graduate of New York's Institute of Culinary Education, started out in broadcasting by interviewing chefs on Sirius XM Radio, the New York Times reports. La Cubana, his latest restaurant, opened in June. "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," the restaurant said in an Instagram post. "No words can fully express our sadness at the sudden loss of our dear friend and brother." It was at La Cubana that "Carl paid proud tribute to his Cuban roots each night, and it is here that Carl's legacy, undeniable spirit and passion for his culture will live on," the restaurant said. The restaurant did not disclose the cause of death, but MSN reports that it was a suspected heart attack. (Read more celebrity chef stories.)