Chef Alex returns to the Cedar Valley for fresh start - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Chef Alex returns to the Cedar Valley for fresh start

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -

He is an award winning chef who has done demonstrations in the KWWL studio. In 2006, however, Chef Alex Martinov, was extradited to France and accused of human trafficking. Now five years later he has returned to the Cedar Valley looking to make a fresh start.

Cooking is Chef Alex's passion.

"The cooking has endless possibilities. You can create something new everyday. Everyday you can create something new," said Martinov.

Chef Alex came to the U.S. 1996 working as a dishwasher at a Mexican restaurant in Detroit. That's where he found his love of cooking. After that he was trained in the culinary arts. Years later he took a job at the Broom Factory in Cedar Falls.

But in 2006 his love for cooking had to be put on the back burner as he was taken into custody and extradited to France where he was accused of human trafficking.

"I went to France. They charged me and they dropped most of the charges, but still some stayed like I helped which is illegal, helping organized crime basically. I went and spent some time. I had to return to my life and I come and I'm fresh and I'm ready to go," said Martinov.

The time he spent was four years in a French prison without the possibility of parole.

"I believe they should of slapped me, but they cut my hands off," said Martinov.

Now free, Chef Alex has returned to the Cedar Valley opening his own restaurant called Alex's on College Street in Cedar Falls. He has also been asked to be a consultant at Fat Cat's Diner in Evansdale.

"I love it. I love the area and I could have went to Detroit when I started. I had offers in Detroit and I had offers in Chicago, but I didn't go. I want to come back here I want to be quiet and do what I know," said Martinov.

Chef Alex says that he could of went any where to start fresh, but he says he believes in this place and he hopes people still believe in him.

"I just want people to know I'm the same Chef Alex. I didn't change. I'm still willing to help. I'm still willing to teach. I'm still willing to do good things," said Martinov.

Chef Alex Martinov has been a U.S. citizen since 1999. He has dual citizenship with the U.S. and his native country, Bulgaria.

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