Carl Ruiz’s loved ones gathered to pay their respects to the late chef at his funeral over the weekend.
Ruiz, who appeared on numerous Food Network shows including Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and Guy’s Ranch Kitchen, died at age 44 on Sept. 21. The cause of death has not been announced, though the restaurant owner’s close friend Matt Farah previously wrote on Instagram that he had “passed peacefully in his sleep.”
A post from La Cubana, the restaurant Ruiz opened just months before his death, announced the service on Saturday.
“Celebrating the life of this beautiful human today!” the post read. “Don’t cry… laugh…Don’t sulk… Dance!”
“Today I say goodbye to one of the greatest friends and chefs I ever knew,” he wrote on social media. “He lived life to the fullest, and loved it all. We will miss you Carl.”
On his way to the funeral, Anthony Rodriguez, a director of photography for Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, shared that while he was sad his friend was gone, he knew Ruiz would want him to be happy.
“I’m sitting here in the airport and Carl I just can not believe you’re gone. I can’t believe I’m flying to your funeral. It just doesn’t make sense. I’m sure wherever you are you’d be saying: “Yo, YOOOOO, Cuz, what the f— are you sad for man, you have everything & you’re alive bro, BRO, have a hot dog & relax,” he wrote. “But I’m sad & miss you. Here’s hoping wherever you are, you’re #Ruizing. Love you forever Hermano.”
Counting her blessings, Chef Aarti Sequeira went on to thank Ruiz for “giving us this gift of a weekend even after you left us.”
“When I bought this dress at a thrift store in Austin this summer, I would never have guessed that I was going to wear it to celebrate and say goodbye to one of my best friends,” she wrote. “ Thank you Carl for giving us this gift of a weekend even after you left us… to hold each other up in our sorrow, to meet the people we only knew through your stories about them… to laugh and enjoy life with more intensity and intention because to not do so would do you a disservice.”
Sequeira also extended her gratitude to Ruiz’s family “for letting us come grieve with you.”
Celebrity chef Jet Tila paid honor to Ruiz over the weekend by sharing a photograph of a shrine he’d erected in his friend’s honor.
“This weekend going to build a little shrine, have a drink pinkies up and remember our buddy @saborchef ! Rest in paradise surrounded by food, vice and a s— load of laughs! Til we meet again my fiend.”
Ruiz’s family confirmed his death earlier this month by establishing a Twitter account, @wemisscarlruiz. “He was all about great times, great food and great friends,” Ruiz’s brother George wrote on behalf of their family. “Please remember his laugh and his wit.”
A representative for La Cubana previously told PEOPLE they plan to establish The Carl Ruiz Scholarship Foundation, which will help aspiring chefs.
“We love you!” the restaurant staff wrote in a statement. “You are already missed. Rest easy.”