Paula Hurtado was born in Santiago, Chile and after graduating from Catholic University in Santiago, she became a primary and high school teacher. In 1974, she became the assistant to Great Chef Hernan Eyzaguirre, who later helped her form a catering business to banks, corporations and political receptions. She was the chef for King Juan Carlos of Spain and President Jimmy Carter when they visited Chile.
In 1985 she became the assistant editor and chef for Chilean cookbook publisher, La Buena Mesa, and ten years later became the manager of an American style bakery called City Bakery in Santiago. In 1996 she participated in Expo Gourmand Santiago where Great Chef, Coco Pacheco met her and brought her in as his pastry chef at Restaurant Aqui esta Coco. Great Chefs Television arrived in Santiago Chile in 1998 to tape Chef Coco, and were pleasantly surprised to discover his pastry chef Paula Hurtado, who then prepared six different desserts for the television camera.