San Antonio to host CIA’s Latin Cuisine Summit and Festival

  • Published by Ozgur Tore

The tastes and culture of the Caribbean will be celebrated in San Antonio October 18–21. Now in its third year, The Culinary Institute of America's Latin Cuisine Summit and Festival will focus on the culinary heritage and contributions of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba. With a changing focus every year, this year's event is titled "Arriba el Caribe."

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Sponsored by John Soules Foods, MillerCoors, and Sysco, the four-day Summit and Festival will feature a student day on Wednesday, October 18; professional days on Thursday and Friday, October 19 and 20; a special dinner at Nao Restaurant; and a community-focused day on Saturday, October 21, featuring special cooking classes and programming for the public. Fundraising events to benefit those affected by recent Caribbean hurricanes will be incorporated into the schedule.

"Latin Caribbean cuisine is a celebration of the aromatic, sweet, tart, piquant, and mild citrus flavors unique to the cuisine of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico," said Nelson Millán, adjunct instructor at CIA San Antonio and executive chef of the San Antonio Country Club. "We have an amazing line-up of presenters, lectures, demonstrations, and hands-on experiences."

In addition to Chef Millán, food personalities and chefs presenting include Doreen Colondres, a celebrity chef known for flavorful seasonal ingredients; Giovanna Huyke, the "Julia Child of Puerto Rico"; Eddy Fernández Monte, past president of the Federation of Culinary Associations of the Republic of Cuba; Oscar Mejia, executive chef at the Westin Houston, Downtown; Mario Pagán, recognized as one of Puerto Rico's best chefs; Wandy Robles, culinary instructor at Instituto Tecnico Superior Comunitario in Santo Domingo; Douglas Rodriguez, Cuban chef and cookbook author; and Zulcoralis Rodriguez, one of the Beverage Network's Eight Women to Watch in 2015.

Student day starts with high school students from various schools in the San Antonio Independent School District, followed by afternoon programming for CIA students, giving both groups access to CIA instructors and visiting presenters. Students will have the opportunity to learn all about Caribbean cuisine, its history, and how to cook with Caribbean foods and flavors.

During the professional portion of the event, participants will explore the multi-cultural influences seen in Latin Caribbean regions; get an in-depth prelude on Caribbean sofrito; learn about exotic and indigenous Caribbean fruits, vegetables, herbs, and other ingredients; and explore the correlations and differences between ingredients, uses, and techniques used to process them.

The schedule is packed with hands-on sessions, break-outs, beverage tastings and seminars, lectures, panel discussions, meals, and more. Registration for the professional summit is open and is $185 per person.

Friday's activities will conclude with dinner at Nao Restaurant, featuring Chef Colondres. This Caribbean-themed dinner is open to the public and costs $125 per person.
In addition to professional programming, "Arriba el Caribe" also features three hands-on, interactive sessions and a special tasting for home cooks and food enthusiasts: Vibrant Dishes of the Caribbean; Caribbean Heat; Caribbean Sweets and Treats; and Small Dishes, Big Flavors of the Caribbean. Tickets can be purchased via the CIA website. CIA Professor Hinnerk von Bargen will also host free live-fire demos on the plaza during the Pearl Farmers Market to showcase the street foods of the Caribbean.

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