Houston's "Enchilada Queen" is in the hospital recovering from a gunshot wound to her abdomen while her boyfriend, the manager of a taco truck she owns, is on the run.
Sylvia Casares, 59, was shot in the stomach Monday at her home in Fulshear, Texas. Police believe her boyfriend of three years, Michael Warren, 58, was responsible for wounding the popular chef.
Warren fled the scene in a black SUV and might have been heading for his hometown of Lafayette, La., Bob Haenel, spokesman for the Fort Bend Sheriff's Office, said.
Haenel said he was unaware of a motive but added that the shooting was not "a willy-nilly act."
Casares has cooked for foodies for 20 years and gained a loyal following at her two restaurants, which are both named "Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen" and boast 18 variations on the popular entree. Her Mexican food empire also included popular cooking classes, a DVD guide to tamale making, a cook book and a taco truck, which Warren managed.
Her cousin, Nadia Casares, who is a manager at one of her restaurants, said she couldn't talk about what led to the shooting, but said her cousin is talking and trying to focus on her recovery.
"Sylvia is very strong and very determined and I know she's missing her work," Casares said.
The restaurateur's three children released a statement to the Houston Chronicle, saying they expect her to make a full recovery.
"Her resilient nature is now helping her pull through this near tragedy," they wrote. "As our mother would want us to, we remain focused and optimistic on her speedy recovery."
The "Enchilada Queen" is expected to be released from the hospital next week, but won't be back in the kitchen for at least a few months, Nadia Casares said, adding: "She really, really loves this business."