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CIA Latin Cuisine Summit focuses on the Caribbean in its third year

The CIA's Center for Foods of the Americas will explore the culinary traditions of Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico next month at its second annual Latin Cuisine Summit, Arriba el Caribe!

3 min read

Restaurant and Foodservice

Chefs and attendees at the 2016 Latin Cuisine Summit

The Culinary Institute of America

The Culinary Institute of America will host “Arriba el Caribe!,” its third annual Latin Cuisine Summit, next month to continue its exploration of the unique regions and cuisines of Latin America. Hosted by the Center for Foods of the Americas on CIA’s San Antonio campus, the four-day event Oct.18 through 21 will highlight the culinary heritage and contributions of the Caribbean comprising Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

Millan at the 2016 Latin Cuisine Summit

“What makes the Latin Caribbean cuisine stand out from the rest of the Latin cuisines is that it is an incredible blend of tropical flavors with multicultural influences that has been refined over centuries,” said Nelson Millan, a CIA adjunct professor and Latin Summit committee member who is also the executive chef of the San Antonio Country Club. “It has been influenced by Native Indians, Spanish, African, French, Arabic, Chinese and Portuguese cultures. Also, its rich tropical climate produces fruits, vegetables, herbs and root vegetables that are unique to most Caribbean dishes.”

Sessions at the Summit will focus on the history of the Caribbean, its signature ingredients and the building blocks of its cuisine such as citrus marinades and sofritos. “Sofrito is where everything starts, it is the base for all Latin Caribbean cuisines,” said Millan, who is from Puerto Rico and will moderate and participate in several sessions at the Summit, including a demonstration of the caja china, a roasting box traditionally used to cook whole pigs.

Other presenters include Giovanna Huyke, known as the “Julia Child of Puerto Rico,” Eddy Fernandez Monte, past president of the Federation of Culinary Associations of the Republic of Cuba; and Zulcoralis Rodriguez, one of the Beverage Network’s Eight Women to Watch in 2015. Also scheduled to present is Doreen Colondres, the first Hispanic Celebrity Chef for the Bordeaux Wine Council and National Pork Board Celebrity Chef, whose dishes will be featured at a celebratory dinner Oct. 19 at Nao Restaurant on the CIA campus.

In addition to the myriad dishes that make up Caribbean cuisine, the Summit will also highlight beverages, with a particular emphasis on rum. “Rum is king in the Caribbean, therefore we will highlight an array of creative rum cocktails, mixed drinks and tropical fruit infused rums that will captivate the audience,” Millan said. “We will be highlighting other typical regional beverages from each country as well,  for example, from the Dominican Republic…mamajuana that is concocted by allowing rum, red wine, and honey to soak in a bottle with tree bark and herbs,” he said. White sangrias and authentic pina Coladas from Puerto Rico, Cuban mojitos and beer from across the Caribbean will also feature in the Summit sessions and tasting events.

The first day of the Summit is made up of student programming designed for local high schoolers and CIA students who will have access to CIA instructors and visiting presenters. The professional conference on Oct. 19 and 20 is open to the public, and the CIA has also designed the final day’s sessions to cater to home cooks and food enthusiasts.


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