“Women in Mexico didn’t really wear chef coats,” Pati Jinich, a Mexican chef and the host of the PBS series “Pati’s Mexican Table,” said in an interview. “Even though, yes, historically, women owned the kitchen space in Mexico, they were never seen as professionals.”
Ms. Quintana wore a chef’s jacket to quietly indicate her own authority. Fluent in four languages, she led locals and visitors on culinary tours of Mexico; established a cooking school in Mexico City, where she taught classes; and started a food business, Gavilla, out of her home kitchen, selling prepared sauces. They are now available in more than 1,000 supermarkets in Mexico.
Ms. Quintana’s marriage to Francisco Pasquel in 1970 ended in divorce six years later. In addition to her son Patricio, she is survived by another son, Francisco Pasquel Quintana, and seven grandchildren. Her sons manage her food business.
Ms. Quintana rarely spoke about a car accident she was involved in when her children were young; it kept her bedridden for a year and damaged her spine. But once she was back on her feet, she returned to the rhythmic grind of her molcajete, the traditional stone mortar and pestle, as well as the electric blender, which she used when it proved more convenient.
She opened a restaurant, Izote, in Mexico City in 2001. She named it after the dramatic clusters of white flowers that bloom on the yucca plant — a thick, slow-growing palm integral to Mayan cuisine.
At Izote, Ms. Quintana synthesized the ancient and contemporary influences that had always guided her work as she became a leader in a culinary movement known as alta cocina Mexicana.
Her restaurant, in the upscale Polanco neighborhood, was a popular destination until it closed in 2013, after Ms. Quintana learned she had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.