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Here’s Your Chance to Visit Cuba with a James Beard Award-Winning Chef

Here’s Your Chance to Visit Cuba with a James Beard Award-Winning Chef

Chef Guillermo Pernot of Cuba Libre invites you on a tour of Havana and beyond

Highlights include dinners with Havana chefs and a visit to Ernest Hemingway’s Cuban home.

Now that the United States has significantly expanded travel capabilities to Cuba, a two-time James Beard Award-winning chef is taking the opportunity to invite Americans on a guided food tour of the country, complete with dinners hosted by renowned Cuban chefs.

Since 2012, Philadelphia chef Guillermo Pernot of Cuba Libre has traveled to Cuba on missions to better understand the culinary history of Havana.

Pernot is also responsible for a special culinary exchange series, Pop-Up Paladar, in which chefs from Havana are invited to take over the kitchen at Cuba Libre.

Now that American citizens have been given more access to Cuba, chef Pernot has opened his tour series — featuring six days and five nights in Havana and other regions of Cuba — to the public.

Highlights from the trip will include visits to the Havana Culinary School, the Havana Farmers’ Market, the Cuban Museum of Voodoo, and Ernest Hemingway’s Cuban home. Space for the upcoming trip, from October 2 to October 7, is limited to 24 people, so book your tickets soon.

“It is always such a pleasure to be able to introduce others to this beautiful country with such a remarkable history, but to be able to do it in a time when the United States and Cuba are continuing to forge a positive, diplomatic relationship is truly an incredible opportunity,” Pernot said in a statement. “The culture, heritage and of course, the flavors of Cuba are so unique and unforgettable. It is a destination that everyone should experience.”


Where to eat Cuban food in Miami, according to Guillermo Pernot

In the foreword to Guillermo Pernot&rsquos new cookbook, José Andrés calls him the maestro of Cuban cooking, but Pernot didn&rsquot grow up eating Cuban food. The two-time James Beard Award-winning chef is originally from Argentina and now lives in the Philadelphia area, home to one of his four Cuba Libre restaurants.

He got interested in the cuisine thanks to his Cuban-born wife, Lucia – they&rsquove been together for more than 30 years, plenty of time for the chef to become a "maestro."

Pernot first visited Cuba in 2010, after years of cooking Cuban food and learning about the culture. "Cubans talk about everything, about history and everything else," he says. "I married this beautiful woman with a beautiful family, and they love to chat about everything."

One day, Lucia Pernot&rsquos sister, María Rosa Menocal, an author and professor at Yale, said she wanted to go back to Cuba – she hadn&rsquot returned since the family left in 1959. "I said, 'Can I tag along?'" Pernot recalls. "I&rsquod been cooking Cuban food for all these years and I always imagined what the island was like, because of what my mother-in-law used to talk about, the anecdotes she would tell when we used to cook together."

Photo from Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs &mdash Photo courtesy of Steve Legato

Menocal was initially interested in researching and writing about her family, which had been prominent in Cuba. Pernot wanted to eat. He started talking about creating a cookbook, and Menocal, who also loved to cook, suggested they write it together. "I wanted to show the world that Cuban food is not what you know here – it&rsquos not just rice and beans," Pernot says. "There&rsquos a lot more history. There are so many hurdles that [Cuban chefs] have to go through."

After that first trip, he journeyed back and forth to Cuba, joining cooks in their kitchens, leading groups on food tours, and gathering recipes and techniques in a country where resources are scarce and chefs quickly learn how to improvise. Menocal died while they were working on the project, but Pernot decided to continue on with it, bringing in Cuban-American cookbook author and professor Lourdes Castro. The result is the recently released Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs.

Photo from Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs &mdash Photo courtesy of Steve Legato

Pernot and Castro sought out recipes from throughout the massive Caribbean island, from the ambitious paladares (privately owned restaurants) in bustling Havana, to roadside stands selling smoked chicken or ropa vieja with ripe plantains in the middle of the country, to the spicy Jamaican- and Haitian-tinged dishes of the southeastern region.

"Cuba is so versatile. It&rsquos a big, big island with a lot of different cultures, different flavors. You can taste so many things," Pernot says. "Cuban cuisine is very complex. Yes, there are the classics, but the new generation is coming up with all these new things."


Where to eat Cuban food in Miami, according to Guillermo Pernot

In the foreword to Guillermo Pernot&rsquos new cookbook, José Andrés calls him the maestro of Cuban cooking, but Pernot didn&rsquot grow up eating Cuban food. The two-time James Beard Award-winning chef is originally from Argentina and now lives in the Philadelphia area, home to one of his four Cuba Libre restaurants.

He got interested in the cuisine thanks to his Cuban-born wife, Lucia – they&rsquove been together for more than 30 years, plenty of time for the chef to become a "maestro."

Pernot first visited Cuba in 2010, after years of cooking Cuban food and learning about the culture. "Cubans talk about everything, about history and everything else," he says. "I married this beautiful woman with a beautiful family, and they love to chat about everything."

One day, Lucia Pernot&rsquos sister, María Rosa Menocal, an author and professor at Yale, said she wanted to go back to Cuba – she hadn&rsquot returned since the family left in 1959. "I said, 'Can I tag along?'" Pernot recalls. "I&rsquod been cooking Cuban food for all these years and I always imagined what the island was like, because of what my mother-in-law used to talk about, the anecdotes she would tell when we used to cook together."

Photo from Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs &mdash Photo courtesy of Steve Legato

Menocal was initially interested in researching and writing about her family, which had been prominent in Cuba. Pernot wanted to eat. He started talking about creating a cookbook, and Menocal, who also loved to cook, suggested they write it together. "I wanted to show the world that Cuban food is not what you know here – it&rsquos not just rice and beans," Pernot says. "There&rsquos a lot more history. There are so many hurdles that [Cuban chefs] have to go through."

After that first trip, he journeyed back and forth to Cuba, joining cooks in their kitchens, leading groups on food tours, and gathering recipes and techniques in a country where resources are scarce and chefs quickly learn how to improvise. Menocal died while they were working on the project, but Pernot decided to continue on with it, bringing in Cuban-American cookbook author and professor Lourdes Castro. The result is the recently released Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs.

Photo from Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs &mdash Photo courtesy of Steve Legato

Pernot and Castro sought out recipes from throughout the massive Caribbean island, from the ambitious paladares (privately owned restaurants) in bustling Havana, to roadside stands selling smoked chicken or ropa vieja with ripe plantains in the middle of the country, to the spicy Jamaican- and Haitian-tinged dishes of the southeastern region.

"Cuba is so versatile. It&rsquos a big, big island with a lot of different cultures, different flavors. You can taste so many things," Pernot says. "Cuban cuisine is very complex. Yes, there are the classics, but the new generation is coming up with all these new things."


Where to eat Cuban food in Miami, according to Guillermo Pernot

In the foreword to Guillermo Pernot&rsquos new cookbook, José Andrés calls him the maestro of Cuban cooking, but Pernot didn&rsquot grow up eating Cuban food. The two-time James Beard Award-winning chef is originally from Argentina and now lives in the Philadelphia area, home to one of his four Cuba Libre restaurants.

He got interested in the cuisine thanks to his Cuban-born wife, Lucia – they&rsquove been together for more than 30 years, plenty of time for the chef to become a "maestro."

Pernot first visited Cuba in 2010, after years of cooking Cuban food and learning about the culture. "Cubans talk about everything, about history and everything else," he says. "I married this beautiful woman with a beautiful family, and they love to chat about everything."

One day, Lucia Pernot&rsquos sister, María Rosa Menocal, an author and professor at Yale, said she wanted to go back to Cuba – she hadn&rsquot returned since the family left in 1959. "I said, 'Can I tag along?'" Pernot recalls. "I&rsquod been cooking Cuban food for all these years and I always imagined what the island was like, because of what my mother-in-law used to talk about, the anecdotes she would tell when we used to cook together."

Photo from Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs &mdash Photo courtesy of Steve Legato

Menocal was initially interested in researching and writing about her family, which had been prominent in Cuba. Pernot wanted to eat. He started talking about creating a cookbook, and Menocal, who also loved to cook, suggested they write it together. "I wanted to show the world that Cuban food is not what you know here – it&rsquos not just rice and beans," Pernot says. "There&rsquos a lot more history. There are so many hurdles that [Cuban chefs] have to go through."

After that first trip, he journeyed back and forth to Cuba, joining cooks in their kitchens, leading groups on food tours, and gathering recipes and techniques in a country where resources are scarce and chefs quickly learn how to improvise. Menocal died while they were working on the project, but Pernot decided to continue on with it, bringing in Cuban-American cookbook author and professor Lourdes Castro. The result is the recently released Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs.

Photo from Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs &mdash Photo courtesy of Steve Legato

Pernot and Castro sought out recipes from throughout the massive Caribbean island, from the ambitious paladares (privately owned restaurants) in bustling Havana, to roadside stands selling smoked chicken or ropa vieja with ripe plantains in the middle of the country, to the spicy Jamaican- and Haitian-tinged dishes of the southeastern region.

"Cuba is so versatile. It&rsquos a big, big island with a lot of different cultures, different flavors. You can taste so many things," Pernot says. "Cuban cuisine is very complex. Yes, there are the classics, but the new generation is coming up with all these new things."


Where to eat Cuban food in Miami, according to Guillermo Pernot

In the foreword to Guillermo Pernot&rsquos new cookbook, José Andrés calls him the maestro of Cuban cooking, but Pernot didn&rsquot grow up eating Cuban food. The two-time James Beard Award-winning chef is originally from Argentina and now lives in the Philadelphia area, home to one of his four Cuba Libre restaurants.

He got interested in the cuisine thanks to his Cuban-born wife, Lucia – they&rsquove been together for more than 30 years, plenty of time for the chef to become a "maestro."

Pernot first visited Cuba in 2010, after years of cooking Cuban food and learning about the culture. "Cubans talk about everything, about history and everything else," he says. "I married this beautiful woman with a beautiful family, and they love to chat about everything."

One day, Lucia Pernot&rsquos sister, María Rosa Menocal, an author and professor at Yale, said she wanted to go back to Cuba – she hadn&rsquot returned since the family left in 1959. "I said, 'Can I tag along?'" Pernot recalls. "I&rsquod been cooking Cuban food for all these years and I always imagined what the island was like, because of what my mother-in-law used to talk about, the anecdotes she would tell when we used to cook together."

Photo from Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs &mdash Photo courtesy of Steve Legato

Menocal was initially interested in researching and writing about her family, which had been prominent in Cuba. Pernot wanted to eat. He started talking about creating a cookbook, and Menocal, who also loved to cook, suggested they write it together. "I wanted to show the world that Cuban food is not what you know here – it&rsquos not just rice and beans," Pernot says. "There&rsquos a lot more history. There are so many hurdles that [Cuban chefs] have to go through."

After that first trip, he journeyed back and forth to Cuba, joining cooks in their kitchens, leading groups on food tours, and gathering recipes and techniques in a country where resources are scarce and chefs quickly learn how to improvise. Menocal died while they were working on the project, but Pernot decided to continue on with it, bringing in Cuban-American cookbook author and professor Lourdes Castro. The result is the recently released Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs.

Photo from Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs &mdash Photo courtesy of Steve Legato

Pernot and Castro sought out recipes from throughout the massive Caribbean island, from the ambitious paladares (privately owned restaurants) in bustling Havana, to roadside stands selling smoked chicken or ropa vieja with ripe plantains in the middle of the country, to the spicy Jamaican- and Haitian-tinged dishes of the southeastern region.

"Cuba is so versatile. It&rsquos a big, big island with a lot of different cultures, different flavors. You can taste so many things," Pernot says. "Cuban cuisine is very complex. Yes, there are the classics, but the new generation is coming up with all these new things."


Where to eat Cuban food in Miami, according to Guillermo Pernot

In the foreword to Guillermo Pernot&rsquos new cookbook, José Andrés calls him the maestro of Cuban cooking, but Pernot didn&rsquot grow up eating Cuban food. The two-time James Beard Award-winning chef is originally from Argentina and now lives in the Philadelphia area, home to one of his four Cuba Libre restaurants.

He got interested in the cuisine thanks to his Cuban-born wife, Lucia – they&rsquove been together for more than 30 years, plenty of time for the chef to become a "maestro."

Pernot first visited Cuba in 2010, after years of cooking Cuban food and learning about the culture. "Cubans talk about everything, about history and everything else," he says. "I married this beautiful woman with a beautiful family, and they love to chat about everything."

One day, Lucia Pernot&rsquos sister, María Rosa Menocal, an author and professor at Yale, said she wanted to go back to Cuba – she hadn&rsquot returned since the family left in 1959. "I said, 'Can I tag along?'" Pernot recalls. "I&rsquod been cooking Cuban food for all these years and I always imagined what the island was like, because of what my mother-in-law used to talk about, the anecdotes she would tell when we used to cook together."

Photo from Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs &mdash Photo courtesy of Steve Legato

Menocal was initially interested in researching and writing about her family, which had been prominent in Cuba. Pernot wanted to eat. He started talking about creating a cookbook, and Menocal, who also loved to cook, suggested they write it together. "I wanted to show the world that Cuban food is not what you know here – it&rsquos not just rice and beans," Pernot says. "There&rsquos a lot more history. There are so many hurdles that [Cuban chefs] have to go through."

After that first trip, he journeyed back and forth to Cuba, joining cooks in their kitchens, leading groups on food tours, and gathering recipes and techniques in a country where resources are scarce and chefs quickly learn how to improvise. Menocal died while they were working on the project, but Pernot decided to continue on with it, bringing in Cuban-American cookbook author and professor Lourdes Castro. The result is the recently released Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs.

Photo from Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs &mdash Photo courtesy of Steve Legato

Pernot and Castro sought out recipes from throughout the massive Caribbean island, from the ambitious paladares (privately owned restaurants) in bustling Havana, to roadside stands selling smoked chicken or ropa vieja with ripe plantains in the middle of the country, to the spicy Jamaican- and Haitian-tinged dishes of the southeastern region.

"Cuba is so versatile. It&rsquos a big, big island with a lot of different cultures, different flavors. You can taste so many things," Pernot says. "Cuban cuisine is very complex. Yes, there are the classics, but the new generation is coming up with all these new things."


Where to eat Cuban food in Miami, according to Guillermo Pernot

In the foreword to Guillermo Pernot&rsquos new cookbook, José Andrés calls him the maestro of Cuban cooking, but Pernot didn&rsquot grow up eating Cuban food. The two-time James Beard Award-winning chef is originally from Argentina and now lives in the Philadelphia area, home to one of his four Cuba Libre restaurants.

He got interested in the cuisine thanks to his Cuban-born wife, Lucia – they&rsquove been together for more than 30 years, plenty of time for the chef to become a "maestro."

Pernot first visited Cuba in 2010, after years of cooking Cuban food and learning about the culture. "Cubans talk about everything, about history and everything else," he says. "I married this beautiful woman with a beautiful family, and they love to chat about everything."

One day, Lucia Pernot&rsquos sister, María Rosa Menocal, an author and professor at Yale, said she wanted to go back to Cuba – she hadn&rsquot returned since the family left in 1959. "I said, 'Can I tag along?'" Pernot recalls. "I&rsquod been cooking Cuban food for all these years and I always imagined what the island was like, because of what my mother-in-law used to talk about, the anecdotes she would tell when we used to cook together."

Photo from Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs &mdash Photo courtesy of Steve Legato

Menocal was initially interested in researching and writing about her family, which had been prominent in Cuba. Pernot wanted to eat. He started talking about creating a cookbook, and Menocal, who also loved to cook, suggested they write it together. "I wanted to show the world that Cuban food is not what you know here – it&rsquos not just rice and beans," Pernot says. "There&rsquos a lot more history. There are so many hurdles that [Cuban chefs] have to go through."

After that first trip, he journeyed back and forth to Cuba, joining cooks in their kitchens, leading groups on food tours, and gathering recipes and techniques in a country where resources are scarce and chefs quickly learn how to improvise. Menocal died while they were working on the project, but Pernot decided to continue on with it, bringing in Cuban-American cookbook author and professor Lourdes Castro. The result is the recently released Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs.

Photo from Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs &mdash Photo courtesy of Steve Legato

Pernot and Castro sought out recipes from throughout the massive Caribbean island, from the ambitious paladares (privately owned restaurants) in bustling Havana, to roadside stands selling smoked chicken or ropa vieja with ripe plantains in the middle of the country, to the spicy Jamaican- and Haitian-tinged dishes of the southeastern region.

"Cuba is so versatile. It&rsquos a big, big island with a lot of different cultures, different flavors. You can taste so many things," Pernot says. "Cuban cuisine is very complex. Yes, there are the classics, but the new generation is coming up with all these new things."


Where to eat Cuban food in Miami, according to Guillermo Pernot

In the foreword to Guillermo Pernot&rsquos new cookbook, José Andrés calls him the maestro of Cuban cooking, but Pernot didn&rsquot grow up eating Cuban food. The two-time James Beard Award-winning chef is originally from Argentina and now lives in the Philadelphia area, home to one of his four Cuba Libre restaurants.

He got interested in the cuisine thanks to his Cuban-born wife, Lucia – they&rsquove been together for more than 30 years, plenty of time for the chef to become a "maestro."

Pernot first visited Cuba in 2010, after years of cooking Cuban food and learning about the culture. "Cubans talk about everything, about history and everything else," he says. "I married this beautiful woman with a beautiful family, and they love to chat about everything."

One day, Lucia Pernot&rsquos sister, María Rosa Menocal, an author and professor at Yale, said she wanted to go back to Cuba – she hadn&rsquot returned since the family left in 1959. "I said, 'Can I tag along?'" Pernot recalls. "I&rsquod been cooking Cuban food for all these years and I always imagined what the island was like, because of what my mother-in-law used to talk about, the anecdotes she would tell when we used to cook together."

Photo from Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs &mdash Photo courtesy of Steve Legato

Menocal was initially interested in researching and writing about her family, which had been prominent in Cuba. Pernot wanted to eat. He started talking about creating a cookbook, and Menocal, who also loved to cook, suggested they write it together. "I wanted to show the world that Cuban food is not what you know here – it&rsquos not just rice and beans," Pernot says. "There&rsquos a lot more history. There are so many hurdles that [Cuban chefs] have to go through."

After that first trip, he journeyed back and forth to Cuba, joining cooks in their kitchens, leading groups on food tours, and gathering recipes and techniques in a country where resources are scarce and chefs quickly learn how to improvise. Menocal died while they were working on the project, but Pernot decided to continue on with it, bringing in Cuban-American cookbook author and professor Lourdes Castro. The result is the recently released Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs.

Photo from Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs &mdash Photo courtesy of Steve Legato

Pernot and Castro sought out recipes from throughout the massive Caribbean island, from the ambitious paladares (privately owned restaurants) in bustling Havana, to roadside stands selling smoked chicken or ropa vieja with ripe plantains in the middle of the country, to the spicy Jamaican- and Haitian-tinged dishes of the southeastern region.

"Cuba is so versatile. It&rsquos a big, big island with a lot of different cultures, different flavors. You can taste so many things," Pernot says. "Cuban cuisine is very complex. Yes, there are the classics, but the new generation is coming up with all these new things."


Where to eat Cuban food in Miami, according to Guillermo Pernot

In the foreword to Guillermo Pernot&rsquos new cookbook, José Andrés calls him the maestro of Cuban cooking, but Pernot didn&rsquot grow up eating Cuban food. The two-time James Beard Award-winning chef is originally from Argentina and now lives in the Philadelphia area, home to one of his four Cuba Libre restaurants.

He got interested in the cuisine thanks to his Cuban-born wife, Lucia – they&rsquove been together for more than 30 years, plenty of time for the chef to become a "maestro."

Pernot first visited Cuba in 2010, after years of cooking Cuban food and learning about the culture. "Cubans talk about everything, about history and everything else," he says. "I married this beautiful woman with a beautiful family, and they love to chat about everything."

One day, Lucia Pernot&rsquos sister, María Rosa Menocal, an author and professor at Yale, said she wanted to go back to Cuba – she hadn&rsquot returned since the family left in 1959. "I said, 'Can I tag along?'" Pernot recalls. "I&rsquod been cooking Cuban food for all these years and I always imagined what the island was like, because of what my mother-in-law used to talk about, the anecdotes she would tell when we used to cook together."

Photo from Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs &mdash Photo courtesy of Steve Legato

Menocal was initially interested in researching and writing about her family, which had been prominent in Cuba. Pernot wanted to eat. He started talking about creating a cookbook, and Menocal, who also loved to cook, suggested they write it together. "I wanted to show the world that Cuban food is not what you know here – it&rsquos not just rice and beans," Pernot says. "There&rsquos a lot more history. There are so many hurdles that [Cuban chefs] have to go through."

After that first trip, he journeyed back and forth to Cuba, joining cooks in their kitchens, leading groups on food tours, and gathering recipes and techniques in a country where resources are scarce and chefs quickly learn how to improvise. Menocal died while they were working on the project, but Pernot decided to continue on with it, bringing in Cuban-American cookbook author and professor Lourdes Castro. The result is the recently released Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs.

Photo from Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs &mdash Photo courtesy of Steve Legato

Pernot and Castro sought out recipes from throughout the massive Caribbean island, from the ambitious paladares (privately owned restaurants) in bustling Havana, to roadside stands selling smoked chicken or ropa vieja with ripe plantains in the middle of the country, to the spicy Jamaican- and Haitian-tinged dishes of the southeastern region.

"Cuba is so versatile. It&rsquos a big, big island with a lot of different cultures, different flavors. You can taste so many things," Pernot says. "Cuban cuisine is very complex. Yes, there are the classics, but the new generation is coming up with all these new things."


Where to eat Cuban food in Miami, according to Guillermo Pernot

In the foreword to Guillermo Pernot&rsquos new cookbook, José Andrés calls him the maestro of Cuban cooking, but Pernot didn&rsquot grow up eating Cuban food. The two-time James Beard Award-winning chef is originally from Argentina and now lives in the Philadelphia area, home to one of his four Cuba Libre restaurants.

He got interested in the cuisine thanks to his Cuban-born wife, Lucia – they&rsquove been together for more than 30 years, plenty of time for the chef to become a "maestro."

Pernot first visited Cuba in 2010, after years of cooking Cuban food and learning about the culture. "Cubans talk about everything, about history and everything else," he says. "I married this beautiful woman with a beautiful family, and they love to chat about everything."

One day, Lucia Pernot&rsquos sister, María Rosa Menocal, an author and professor at Yale, said she wanted to go back to Cuba – she hadn&rsquot returned since the family left in 1959. "I said, 'Can I tag along?'" Pernot recalls. "I&rsquod been cooking Cuban food for all these years and I always imagined what the island was like, because of what my mother-in-law used to talk about, the anecdotes she would tell when we used to cook together."

Photo from Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs &mdash Photo courtesy of Steve Legato

Menocal was initially interested in researching and writing about her family, which had been prominent in Cuba. Pernot wanted to eat. He started talking about creating a cookbook, and Menocal, who also loved to cook, suggested they write it together. "I wanted to show the world that Cuban food is not what you know here – it&rsquos not just rice and beans," Pernot says. "There&rsquos a lot more history. There are so many hurdles that [Cuban chefs] have to go through."

After that first trip, he journeyed back and forth to Cuba, joining cooks in their kitchens, leading groups on food tours, and gathering recipes and techniques in a country where resources are scarce and chefs quickly learn how to improvise. Menocal died while they were working on the project, but Pernot decided to continue on with it, bringing in Cuban-American cookbook author and professor Lourdes Castro. The result is the recently released Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs.

Photo from Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs &mdash Photo courtesy of Steve Legato

Pernot and Castro sought out recipes from throughout the massive Caribbean island, from the ambitious paladares (privately owned restaurants) in bustling Havana, to roadside stands selling smoked chicken or ropa vieja with ripe plantains in the middle of the country, to the spicy Jamaican- and Haitian-tinged dishes of the southeastern region.

"Cuba is so versatile. It&rsquos a big, big island with a lot of different cultures, different flavors. You can taste so many things," Pernot says. "Cuban cuisine is very complex. Yes, there are the classics, but the new generation is coming up with all these new things."


Where to eat Cuban food in Miami, according to Guillermo Pernot

In the foreword to Guillermo Pernot&rsquos new cookbook, José Andrés calls him the maestro of Cuban cooking, but Pernot didn&rsquot grow up eating Cuban food. The two-time James Beard Award-winning chef is originally from Argentina and now lives in the Philadelphia area, home to one of his four Cuba Libre restaurants.

He got interested in the cuisine thanks to his Cuban-born wife, Lucia – they&rsquove been together for more than 30 years, plenty of time for the chef to become a "maestro."

Pernot first visited Cuba in 2010, after years of cooking Cuban food and learning about the culture. "Cubans talk about everything, about history and everything else," he says. "I married this beautiful woman with a beautiful family, and they love to chat about everything."

One day, Lucia Pernot&rsquos sister, María Rosa Menocal, an author and professor at Yale, said she wanted to go back to Cuba – she hadn&rsquot returned since the family left in 1959. "I said, 'Can I tag along?'" Pernot recalls. "I&rsquod been cooking Cuban food for all these years and I always imagined what the island was like, because of what my mother-in-law used to talk about, the anecdotes she would tell when we used to cook together."

Photo from Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs &mdash Photo courtesy of Steve Legato

Menocal was initially interested in researching and writing about her family, which had been prominent in Cuba. Pernot wanted to eat. He started talking about creating a cookbook, and Menocal, who also loved to cook, suggested they write it together. "I wanted to show the world that Cuban food is not what you know here – it&rsquos not just rice and beans," Pernot says. "There&rsquos a lot more history. There are so many hurdles that [Cuban chefs] have to go through."

After that first trip, he journeyed back and forth to Cuba, joining cooks in their kitchens, leading groups on food tours, and gathering recipes and techniques in a country where resources are scarce and chefs quickly learn how to improvise. Menocal died while they were working on the project, but Pernot decided to continue on with it, bringing in Cuban-American cookbook author and professor Lourdes Castro. The result is the recently released Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs.

Photo from Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets From Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs &mdash Photo courtesy of Steve Legato

Pernot and Castro sought out recipes from throughout the massive Caribbean island, from the ambitious paladares (privately owned restaurants) in bustling Havana, to roadside stands selling smoked chicken or ropa vieja with ripe plantains in the middle of the country, to the spicy Jamaican- and Haitian-tinged dishes of the southeastern region.

"Cuba is so versatile. It&rsquos a big, big island with a lot of different cultures, different flavors. You can taste so many things," Pernot says. "Cuban cuisine is very complex. Yes, there are the classics, but the new generation is coming up with all these new things."


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