Mexicans Out of the Kitchen! A Gourmet Fest Brings Latin Eats to the Fore

It’s a long running joke of the New York restaurant world that most local restaurants are, in fact, Mexican. You may be eating in a bistro named Chez Jacques, but chances are high that your food is being masterfully prepared by a dude named Juan from Puebla. Now here’s the punchline: these same industrious Latin American cats making your grub today working back-breaking shifts and sleeping nine to a room in Flushing are also learning the cutthroat New York resto business inside out. These are New York’s future restaurant owners. Marry that with the fact that there’s already a crew of top level Latin American chefs and owners – not all from Puebla, of course – killing it in kitchens from Tribeca to the Bronx to Madison Ave, and it’s shaping up to be a very Latin American dining experience for approximately…a very long time. So let’s celebrate! (Unless you’re a Tea Partier, in which case, build a fence around your house and eat some mayo.) And that’s where the first annual Gourmet Latino Festival comes in, a forward-thinking exploration of the Latin American culinary experience that hits New York City this June.

The event is the brainchild of three New York-based Latin American women, Mariana Suarez, Karen Uribe and Claudia Castro, and bills itself as “the first world-class, socially conscious celebration of Latin culture and culinary traditions featuring renowned chefs, mixologists and tastemasters.” (For the record using tastemaker and mixology in the same sentence cancels itself out, so there). The idea is to showcase “Latin America’s profound cultural richness and diversity.” In other words, to drive home the point once and for all that there’s much more to Latin eats than San Loco – that there’s some cutting edge, sophisticated material to be savored. Excellent New York spots like Centrico, Cuchacarama, Macondo, Rayuela, Fonda, Industria Argentina, Yerba Buena, Toloache, Palo Santo, Sueños, Zarela, Zafra and others will be taking part, with a portion of ticket sales earmarked for GrowNYC’s New Farmer Development Project. “We felt it was time to celebrate how Latin Chefs and Mixologists are revolutionizing the way we eat, drink and think about food and beverages, ” explains Karen Uribe, co-founder of the Gourmet Latino Festival. Tickets go for about $50 and get you a taste of the following countries: Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay. The festival kicks off June 4th – 6th at the Astor Center on Lafayette Street, followed by a week of authentic dining at participating restaurants from June 8th – 12th. Buen provecho.

Photo by Natalia Castro Photography

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