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Carlos Fuenmayor Carlos

Food & Service

How lucky can you get?

My friend and Torito Chef Carlos Hernandez has invited me to cook with him at the Montreal High Lights Festival.

This year’s ninth annual winter festival includes 14 Toronto chefs strutting their stuff in key Montreal restaurants.

We’re going to be in very esteemed company. The other invited chefs are Honorary President Susur Lee, Bertrand Alépée et Jason Inniss of Amuse-Bouche, Christopher Brown of Perigee, Jason Carter of Lee, Jean-Pierre Challet of The Fifth Grill, David Chrystian of Chez Victor, Keith Froggett of Scaramouche, Jamie Kennedy, JK Kitchens, Lorenzo Loseto of George, Gabriele Paganelli of Romagna Mia, Marc Thuet of Bistro & Bakery Thuet, Anthony Walsh of Canoe and Anne Yarymowich of the Art Gallery of Ontario – some serious heavy-hitters.

It’s a tremendous honour that Carlos has asked me to cook with him. I’ve admired his work for years. He has a beautiful, deceptively simple style, where flavours rule and sing. His ingredients are always the best, and his execution is highly skilled. I’m a regular patron of Torito, because there’s nowhere else in the city that can make simple food with such finesse.

Carlos just got back from Montreal yesterday, where he met with the culinary team of the Pullman Restaurant, our hosts for two evenings of cooking, and he was very excited about our trip next month.

He also told me to keep our first night in Montreal free so that we can go to Pied de Cochon, the illustrious restaurant that got so much acclaimed attention last year.

“Keep the whole evening free,” he insisted. “It’s not the kind of place to drop in to for a taste of this or that. We’re going to be there for the night.”

Sounds good to me.

If you’re going to be in the neighbourhood, come by to see us at Pullman Restaurant on Wednesday, February 27 and Thursday, February 28.

Yours in good food in Montreal

Rosa Maria Tortorici and I are ecstatic to report that our collaborative project was a huge success.

Together, we devised a way to pull together a Spanish language lesson — with a nod to Rosa’s Living Spanish language school — while simultaneously conducting a Latino cooking class, which was my contribution.

We sold out to a very happy crowd of Hispanophile foodies hungry for knowledge. They also got a lot of laughs, a little talk on wine, courtesy of Anne Theunissen of Pacific Wines and Spirits, and some great Latino food.

The evening was successful for us on another level too. We had some media in attendance, which resulted some great coverage. Canadian Immigrant magazine profiled us in a feature article in the January, 2008, issue, which gave us national exposure.

Sun TV was also there and invited us onto an episode of Canoe Live a few weeks later for a dual live-to-air interview, while also broadcasting the photos we took of our class that night.

So much fun and so many great outcomes have to be followed up with even more, so we’ve decided to do another four classes this year, the first being in the spring.

Stay tuned for further notice.

To all the attendees, from both Rosa and myself, thanks for a great night.

Yours in good press,


Latin Fever Sabrosito-Style

I’m really excited and honoured, and humbled, too.

The LCBO has picked me as their Featured Chef for the 2008 Winter Season Cooking Education Program.
This is my second Latin Fever Series for the LCBO, and the first time in seven years that a South American chef has been chosen to be Featured Chef.

It’s also a testament to what I’ve been working on – establishing Sabrosito as the go-to Latino cooking teacher and gourmet-party caterer

At the Kingsway LCBO kitchen

Talking about my roots and celebrating Latino food and heritage have given me the chance to expand people’s understanding of this cuisine.

It covers great many cultures, is influenced and developed by three continents, 23 countries, and many island nations.

For me, La Cocina de las Americas, or The Cuisine of the Americas, is rich, fresh, humble and beautiful, like many other world cuisines, let’s face it.

But just as people’s perception of Italian food has evolved far beyond spaghetti and pizza over the last 20 years, this is the age when popular awareness of Latino food will go far beyond burritos and guacamole.

More and more, people are going to be working on their guisados and tiraditos. They’re going to be expanding their ideas about cactus and chocolate [more on that soon] and daring to buy and cook boniato [white sweet potato] and chayote [vegetable pear]

I see it when I work on dinner party menus with my clients. I see it in the faces of the people who participate in my cooking classes.

I love what I’m seeing.

For that, I say, Gracias

Specials thanks in particular to the LCBO’s Joanne Leese and Rita Stephens for their recognition of my work and continued support. It’s always a pleasure working with you both. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity.

Pick up a fresh copy of the Educational Program Brochure at your local LCBO. Take advantage of their great roster of classes.

Yours in good food and Latin Fever, LCBO-style


I’ve teamed up with my friend Rosa Maria Tortorici, who runs Living Spanish, a unique Spanish school, where she takes her students outside the classroom and to cafés, to the market or into her home to cook them a meal, all in Spanish. This way, she says, real life inspires their language learning and not the conjugations of verbs.

I met Rosa Maria a party that I hosted in 2002, but it wasn’t until this year that we really started talking. The subject? The relationship of language, food and culture.

We were having dinner at Torito one night, and she mentioned that she’s taking culinary courses at George Brown College, and that’s when the conversation got very interesting. Before we knew it, we were on the subject of how we both teach in our prospective fields and that maybe we could do something together. Like a cooking class.

“Let’s do it!” she said.

And this how it’s going down: Living Spanish with Sabrosito


Special thanks to Esther Benaim of Great Cooks for opening the doors of her beautiful cooking studio to us, to Anne Theunissen of Pacific Wines and Spirits, who is going to pour the wine and tell us a bit about her matches, and to Stephanie Ortenzi of Pistachio, for helping us get our message out.

From Rosa Maria and I, Muchas Gracias

Yours in good food and new adventures,


The twelve annual Toronto International Latin Film Festival opens tomorrow, but the ball got rolling on last Wednesday night.

Festival director Raül Galvez and his wife Kim hosted a launch bash at the Drake and put on a fine spread: a great selection of Latino canapés and jamon serrano courtesy of Catch Fine Foods. Delicious.
As Kim told the crowd, the festival showcases the cinematic achievements of Latino film, giving film aficionados good reason to see these countries as makers of noteworthy films.

I’m seeing a similar movement among my foodie clients. More and more I’m finding a growing curiosity and a geniune desire to learn more about Latin food.

I wonder if there’s a Latino filmmaker out there cooking up a South American Big Night?

The festival wraps up October 20, so don’t miss out.

Yours in great food and fine films from all over The Americas

This is how I learned about Pilar coming to town, which is exciting in itself.

I got a call from Andrew Gardner, my old friend from my days at Xango, who’s now part of the management team at Reds Bistro.

He and Reds Chef Michael Steh, invited me to come and talk to them about Latino cuisine. They wanted to add something authentically South American to their repertoire for when their distinguished guest chef arrives from Chile comes to cook in their kitchen next week.

Kicking off on October 1st, and wrapping up with a gala finale tasting menu dinner on October 6th, Reds is hosting “Flavours of Chile,” a celebration of Chilean food and wine.

Ceviche and Scallop with salsa verde

Andrew and Mike were particularly interested in humitas, a distinctly Chilean dish, made with tender, ground corn, onions, smoked paprika, basil and butter or pork fat, depending on the maker’s taste. The mixture is wrapped in corn husks, tied with string into neat parcels and then steamed. They’re often accompanied by pebre, a raw salsa of sweet peppers, chiles, onions, tomato and cilantro, a fresh counterpoint to the humita’s sweet creamy contents.

Humitas have become known as a Latino staple because they’re also made throughout the Andes, from Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and Ecuador, and all the way down to Argentina, each country doing its own unique version.

I love doing cooking demonstrations, but this was a little different. Something beautiful happened when I tied on my apron in the Reds kitchen.
Since starting my catering business last year, I haven’t been on the line of a restaurant kitchen and had no idea how much I missed it. Cooking that afternoon, I got all juiced up with the adrenalin that comes from being at the stoves. It’s the buzz all cooks get hooked on — the creative joy of making something that tastes great, in the company of others who feel the same way.

It was a blast. Thanks so much for that, guys.

For her visit, Pilar has prepared three different menus of regional dishes, and will cook alongside Mike, who will be putting his own brilliant spin on Latino.

The cherry on top? Chilean wines matched to each course.

No se lo pierdan*
* Spanish for “Don’t miss it.”

For more info call 416-862-7337

For more on the stars of the show:

Pilar Rodriguez
Michael Steh

Yours in good food, working with great chefs,

I don’t know what all the fuss was about .Gourmet devotes their September issue entirely to Latino Food, and according to Editor Ruth Riechl, in her interview with the Reuters News Service, it didn’t sit well with some of her readers.

She says she got comments like, “This is disgusting. We never eat this kind of food,” and “Isn’t Gourmet a French word?”

Luckily for her, happily for me, others saw it differently: “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” and “This is the best issue you’ve ever done.”

In my eyes, it was cause for celebration. To have Latino cuisine covered in depth and with such appreciation – this is what my work is all about.

As a South American chef, I live to introduce more and more Toronto foodies to this cuisine. It’s great to have Gourmet Magazine bring it to such a huge audience.

Back in July, during my interview with Kevin Sylvester on CBC Radio, he pointed out that just 20 years ago, we finally had real Italian food in Toronto, not just pizza and spaghetti. Latino cuisine has to travel the same road. Only then will the public’s perception of Latino food move beyond tacos, burritos, nachos and empanadas.

Kevin also wanted to know if there was real Latino fare being cooked here in Toronto. Absolutely, and a lot of it is in the suburbs. As with those early Italian restaurants, there are often home cooks at the stove, and you can’t get more authentic than that.

My favourites downtown are Cosina de Doña Luz, Boulevard Café and Milagro.

Congratulations to Gourmet Magazine, and thanks to Maricel Presilla and her work as a chef, scholar, restaurateur, Cuban native and a leading authority on Latin American and Spanish culture and cuisine. In her Question and Answer profile, she talks about European and Latin-American geography and history, which plays an important part. She talks about how pan-Latino culture is evolving in North America. My favourite was her remark about how, when thinking about Latin cuisine, it’s important to look at culture, not country.

This makes a lot of sense to me. Otherwise, how else can I communicate to my clients how the contribution of 21 countries and some island nations can all come together to form this lovely cuisine.


On display…. Cactus leaves, tomatillos, Poblano, banana, caracol peppers and Serrano chillies

Any chance of a national Canadian magazine taking a similar look at Latino food and culture here?

Your in good Latino food,

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*Spanish for: "Mmm. Wow. That's good!"