Cover Woman: Di-Anna Arias

Di-Anna Arias


By Michelle Vasquez  |  Photography by Suzanne Pack


The eyes of Di-Anna Arias dance as she talks about her passion for Texas history, food, and women. Speaking to Di-Anna, you engage in her sparkling laughter, the warmth of hospitality, and the creative magic she imparts on a properly set table. Di-Anna views the world through curiosity, possibilities, and purpose in everything she does. This perspective has made her a creative force as Vice President of Sales and Culinary Vision at Don Strange of Texas, Inc., a 71-year-old catering company in San Antonio.


To relate to Di-Anna, you must know where she and her family come from. The two sides of the family are from East Texas and Laredo. Her East Texas family had a true Texas pioneer spirit about them. The other side of the family encompasses the Spanish/Mexican heritage, a significant part of Texan culture. These two influences and her ancestral English DNA have shaped Di-Anna’s spirit and reflect who she is, what she does, and how she does it.


Di-Anna’s love of food started at an early age. As a child in East Texas, she grew up afoot in the kitchen of her mother’s family, learning how to make southern biscuits and chicken and dumplings. Always preferring the kitchen to the playground, this experience fostered her curiosity and prompted her to ask questions like, “Where does our food come from?” Her uncle encouraged her to explore her curiosity, “Go into the field and dig up a potato,” he said. So she did, and Di-Anna reflected, “That memory is something I will never forget.”


Traveling from East Texas to Laredo to spend time with her other grandmother, Di-Anna remembers enjoying a freshly picked avocado sliced on a homemade corn tortilla. “It sparked my interest to know that this odd green fruit growing on a tree in her yard could be so delicious.”


After college graduation, Di-Anna’s career began with a bit of luck. In 1985, she agreed to help make gorditas for one night at The Witte Game Dinner. Through serendipity, she met the owner of the company she worked for, Don Strange. He offered her a temporary job, which she accepted, to learn about the catering business. Thirty-eight years later, her inquisitiveness and “why not” attitude continue, and she has built a career cultivating interests in food and business. In her role, she creates growth opportunities for the organization and develops relationships with clients, turning their vision into reality.


Di-Anna credits her tenure at the company to Don Strange’s mentorship. He believed in her abilities to contribute beyond the scope of her responsibilities. “His belief in me provided me with the foundation and knowledge I needed to unleash the creativity that our customers have come to expect from our organization,” says Di-Anna. He taught her to see through the lens of his experienced attention to the details that are important to the client but that they may not be aware of. This meticulousness led to opportunities to cater events at the White House.


“As a culinary visionary, I aim to honor our culinary legacy while moving our offerings into the future with passion, creativity, and expertise,” she says. While Texas culture is a large part of the heritage provided in their menus, Di-Anna quickly mentions that her organization creates meal selections that celebrate cultures worldwide. A singular event can incorporate Texas quail with croffles, a beautiful Korean “street food” dessert. The creativity and legacy of Don Strange are executed by Di-Anna, along with his son Brian, the current CEO, and the operations team, who demonstrate a commitment to innovation, excellence, and customer satisfaction.


Di-Anna has a particular way of looking at the world visually and viscerally and considers herself “a curator of parties, entertaining and memories for every season and reason.” Where most people might walk through a garden and see only flowers, Di-Anna sees color combinations of lighting and décor, reminded of table settings created from antique jewelry or glassware – think cobalt blue glasses with jade green place settings and marigolds adorning the table. This magical way of ‘seeing’ makes her events unique, and she regularly shares her visions on ‘Daytime: Dishing with Di-Anna,’ which appears on FOX KABB.


Strong Texas women from the 1830s to the 1930s also inspire her. Curious about pioneer women, she delved into the memoirs of Mary A. Maverick and the book Texas Ranch Women by Carmen Goldthwaite. Both books communicate resilience that she can relate to. “You know the grit that these women had? I feel like I have similar grit, and it just inspires me that they went through so much and remained resilient.”


Despite obstacles, these pioneers built businesses and communities, held their families together, and shaped Texas history, which motivates Di-Anna’s resilience. Personal goals that keep her going include ‘always staying positive even in the face of adversity, never saying no just because you may not have encountered a solution yet, creative problem-solving, going for the win, and helping your neighbor along the way.” Her ambition and drive often take her outside her comfort zone, and she sees this as an opportunity for growth and development in her creativity and career.


Taking this one step further, Di-Anna has a plan and life purpose. “First and foremost is to live a life that’s pleasing to God, to live a life that’s pleasing to me, to love my family unconditionally, to be there for my friends, and to enjoy a career that always brings a smile to my face.” This philosophy underpins her success with its focus.


Di-Anna Areas and Husband


Another trait that defines Di-Anna is her ability to serve others, and she does so in and out of the kitchen. Di-Anna enjoys spending time at home with her husband, Roger Arias, and her son, both of whom have worked in the culinary industry. And, of course, there’s the wrangling of the newest addition to the family, their new puppy, Dottie Belle, a SNIPSA rescue.


Outside of home life, her leadership skills and civic involvement align with her interests. She has taken on roles with The Alamo Mission Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (AMC-DRT) and Les Dames d’Escoffier, San Antonio Chapter (LDEISA).


As the first vice president of the AMC-DRT, her love for Texas history is personal; her sixth great-grandfather, Edward Morris Tanner, volunteered alongside Sam Houston in the Battle of San Jacinto and received Spanish land grants that are part of her family’s homestead legacy in East Texas. This fact explains her love of Texas history.


She has served as President and is currently Second Vice President of Programming for LDEISA, a women’s organization focused on food, wine, hospitality, nutrition, and agriculture. The group raises money for scholarships and supports local initiatives such as the Time Dollar Community Center, a West Side food pantry and community garden, and the Roy Maas Youth Alternatives shelter. At the shelter, they fulfill resident children’s wish lists for Christmas and create culinary memories for the children.


Di-Anna Arias’s journey as a respected culinary and civic leader intertwines with her love for Texas heritage and community engagement. Her creativity, passion, and hard work blend tradition with innovation, meaningfully impacting people who cross her path at work, home, and community.


Di-Anna Arias and culinary team
Di-Anna Arias and culinary team


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2 Responses

  1. How or where can I order a copy of the current magazine with Di-Anna Arias on the cover?

    She is my cousin Roger’s wife and I have always admired her (and her husband).

    Thank you.

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