Cuban cuisine has taken off in New York City. Chefs like Heriberto Herrera from Amor Cubano have brought Cuban cuisine into the limelight. The restaurant represents traditional Cuban home cooking, all the recipes Chef Herrera works with were given to him by two extraordinary Cuban ladies that worked with him on perfecting each dish. They usually come to the kitchen to check on him. He tells us “you know how mums are”. This is what you can come to expect from Amor Cubano; a love of family, a love of people and most of all a love of food. Our conversation with Chef Herrera follows:
FriendsEAT: Did you grow up in the kitchen.
Chef Heriberto Herrera: Yes, I come from a very large latino family and as long as I can remember, I was helping out in the kitchen, my aunt and my mum, were a great team. They always prepared everything together and I used to squeeze in to mix some dough or cut sweet plantains with a plastic knife, I was only 3 or 4 years old.
FE: Who was the biggest influence in your cooking?
CHH: I learnt many things from many different people, but the one person I think of when I am creating a new plate is my aunt in her kitchen, in the farm, full of light and captivating aromas. The spices, the fruits, warm bread. She loved and lived cooking, just by looking at her preparing something was a pleasure, her passion for detail was exquisite.
FE: When did you know that you would become a Chef?
CHH: There is nothing more satisfying than making others happy, the excitement of looking at someone take the first bite and go: “WOW!”, as they try to savour every inch.
FE: What is the biggest misconception new chefs have when coming into the field?
CHH: That men are better chefs than women.
FE: What is the one thing novices need to do?
CHH: Relax, relax and relax, and make sure you have all the ingredients BEFORE you start.
FE: Three tools you can’t live without?
FE: Your favorite ingredient to cook with?
CHH: Eggs, you can do anything with eggs.
FE: So when you are home relaxing, what will we find you eating?
CHH: At home I am not the chef, I am Dad, so we have kids favorites, quite often, but all is home made and keeping health in mind. Lots of fish and vegetables, fruits.
FE: And your favorite cookbook?
CHH: My aunt’s notebook were she kept all the family recipes. She gave to me when I came to America. It was the best gift, I brought a little of my land with me.
FE: Is there something in your kitchen that you pride yourself in?
CHH: In my kitchen everyone is essential. Respect for each other’s work is a must. We are like an orchestra, I may be the conductor but I cannot play all instruments at the same time.
If you want to taste some true Cuban dishes, head to
2018 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10029-3263