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Carlos Fuenmayor Carlos

Food & Service

In the Americas and all around the world, what we all have in common, is that our great-grand parents made sure that those typical or classical dishes for Christmas were passed on throughout generations.

Case in point is the Hallaca, which is made through Central and South America and has many manes like Tamal, Hayaca, Tamale, Envulto, chachas, chalas, Humitas rellanas and the list goes on.

Hallaca with chicken salad and picadillo[ Oriente style]

In Venezuela making hallacas is serious business. When I was child living in Venezuela I remember seeing people having big discussions about whose hallacas were best.
It’s a family affair, the process is long and involves everyone, especially family members who reunite to make big batch to eat during ‘La Navidad’ or Christmas.

The Families work like an assembly line. The grandmothers clean the plantain leaves, which the hallacas are wrap up with, the Moms make the guiso [stew and fillings] and masa [dough], the youngest stuff and wrap them; the eldest tie them and they all cook and eat them.

Other interesting dishes that we make for Navidad are: Pan de Jamon [Ham bread] which is stuffed with smoked ham, panchetta and raisins; Ensalada de Gallina [chicken salad], Torta Navideña [Christmas cake] and Ponche Crema [eggnog]


Rolling up the pan de Jamon


Pan de Jamom


Pan de Jamon with chicken salad


Some of the ingredients for the Christmas cake and pan de Jamon

When talking about hallacas in Venezuela everyone will say “Las mejores hallacas son las de mi mamá” which translates to “my mom makes the best hallacas”.

Without Hallacas, Pan de Jamon, Torta Navideña and Ponche crema it would not be Navidad in Venezuela.

Thinking of those good memories, I decided to do something: I decided to do a class to introduce my style of Venezuelan cooking to new generations of Toronto foodies, who are looking for something different for this Christmas. The class took place last November 19 at the Kingsway LCBO.
I was very surprise by the great comments that I got from the guests at the class.

They really enjoyed the food and the history that it came with it.

Now you can have the change to taste this delicious dishes at Arepa Cafe, which is located at 490 Queen Street West.

Special thanks to lcbo’s Joanne Leese for your continued support on celebrating Latin American food and culture through my cooking classes.

Yours, celebrating the holidays, Venezuelan style,



The food is for the souls of the dead couple whose pictures were on the altar as part of the Latin American holiday, Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, which took place at Caju last Monday night.

Homemade altars are a common sight in many Latino households as part of the Dia de los Muertos holiday, coinciding with All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days Nov. 1-2.

Those who want to honor the dead set up tables with candles called veladoras, glasses of water, fruit and pan de muerto a couple of days before to welcome back the spirits of their loved ones.

Pan de muerto, round loaves of sweet bread, are one of the most iconic items on the altars.


Ancient indigenous people of Central and South America believed the souls of dead loved ones come back to roam the earth for a short time. When the souls return, they need incense to cleanse the area of bad spirits; water because they’re thirsty from their journey, candles to guide them, flowers to make them happy and their favorite foods.

The celebration of the day of the dead is the celebration of life itself, and with that spirit thanks to event organizers Mary Luz Mejia and Mario Stojanac of Sizzling Communications, Caju’s Tina Giontsis and Torito’s tapas bar Veronica Laudes, I am happy to report that we had a great event.

Ola as Of Latino America, 7 chefs, one kitchen, One Hot Night, it really was Hot!!!

We all prepared dishes that represented our roots using locally grown products.
The event sold out to a happy crow of Anglos and Latinos
And this is how it when down.

From Brazil Mario Cassini, chef owner of Caju

Bolinhos, pan de quiejo [ yuca and cheese bread]

Argentinean Marina Queirolo of Sürkl Empanadas

Empandas de Molleja, local corn and Woolwich Dairy chevre

Colombian-Canadian, Steven Gonzales of Latino 5 spice Catering

Oxtail Sancocho- Colombian style consomé with ravioli and bananito

From Mexico

Luis Valenzulea, Torito tapas bar chef

Octopus salad with artichokes, Ontario fingering potatoes and spicy citrus dressing

Jose Hadad, chef owner of Frida Restaurant

Organic Cornish Hen, Mole Poblano, rice, frijoles fritos and sesame seeds

Elizabeth Rubeme, chef owner of Amaranto Creations

The most beautiful and testing Tres Leches cake I ever had

And me
Venezuelan classic arepas, Carne mechada[sheredded beef] Reina pepiada[chicken and avocado] served with chayote relish

Toronto’s Drew Innes was our Sommelier for the event.

From my fellow chefs and organizers we wan to thank all our sponsors; Kaiken, Montes Premium wines, Fresita, White Hall wines, Pascuale Bros, Elee Desing , Saroli Foods, The Healthy Butcher , Woolwich Dairy, Inc, Kwozimodo productions, and a very special thanks to Mario and Tina for hosting us.

The proceeds of the event were donated to The Youthlink.

Celebrando la vida!

Yours celebrating life!

Next post, The opening of Arepa Cafe!!
Stay tune

This year’s event was all about ‘world cuisine’ using local and
organic products.

It was an honor for me and my crew, to have been invited to the
picnic, thanks to the event organizers decision to recognize cultural and
ethnic groups from around the world that make Toronto home.
Connecting the global palate using foods grown locally is a great
opportunity to bring environmental and cultural traditions together,
which at the same time makes our city more beautiful in the eyes of
the world.


The crew, from right to left, Adrian Marquez, Marc Lukacs and Eduardo Lee, thanks for your help guys!!

There were food stations from Central and South America, Africa, the
Caribbean, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asian and India.

With that spirit of global food, I decided to make a “Guiso de
Calabaza, queso y Siqui-siqui” (Organic Delicata squash stew and fresh
cheese). I got all my food products from Pfennings Farms and the queso
fresco from Local Dairy Produce (Ingersoll, Ontario) and the
Portuguese Cheese Company, which is based in Toronto.


It was great to see people enjoying the food, particularly the groovy
organic vessel I designed to carry the guiso to avoid plastic or
unnecessary paper.

To make the containers we cut squares of plantain leaf, wrapped them
into the shape of a cup and then held them together with small,
sturdy wooden skewers from Chinatown. All of it will become beautiful

Happy to report that it was a hit with all my new vegetarians friends.

Yours from the 2009 Bricks Works Picnic

I team up with Eduardo Lee and Marc Lukacs, owners of Arepa Cafe to do a chacapa testing at St. Andrew’s Farmers Market to promote the opening of the restaurant that will be located at 490 Queen Street West.


With Eduardo Lee

Cachapas, which are made with fresh corn, salt, pepper, butter and top up with queso fresco, basil and olive oil. A traditional dish from Venezuela and people who came out to the testing welcomed our ideas and flavours with excitement and understanding of what chacapas really are. A humble, but delicious dish.


Serving cachapas con queso y albahaca (fresh corn pancakes with fresco cheese and basil)


The corn and basil was donated by Sandra and John Paul Mooney from Godelie Family Farm.
Queso fresco from the Local Dairy Products from Ingersoll, Ontario


Stay tune for opening party date

Arepa Cafe= Venezuelan Urbanity

Yours from the Market

Ola; Of Latin America

Nothing is sweeter than realizing a dream, and another one is coming right up. Thanks to the visionary Mary Luz Mejia and her partner Mario Stojanac of Sizzling Communications, an evening of Latino cuisine is set to blow your mind.
We all decided to call it OLA, which stands for Of Latin America. And in that spirit, on October 26, at Caju, this is what’s in story for you.


Front Row- L-R: Steve Gonzalez, Liz Rumebe and me

Back Row L-R: Jose Hadad, Luis Valenzuela and Mario Cassini.

Marina Queirolo is currently traveling in Argentina

Mario Cassini, Caju
Jose Hada, Frida
Luis Vanlenzuela, Torito
Steve Gonzales, Latino 5-Spice
Marina Queirolo, Sûrkl Empanadas
Elizabeth Rumebe, Alpine Bakery

Plus Sommelier Drew Innes pairing Spanish, Chilean and Argentine wines by course.


Seats are limited.
Don’t miss out.
Get in touch w/Mary Luz Mejia for tickets at 416. 992.2644

Proceeds from the event will be donated to Youth Link
See you there.

Yours on a very exiting night

Luminato was so great this year, I’m still thinking about it, even thought we wrapped it up over a month and a half ago. The first year, at the Distillery, was fantastic, but the organizers topped their best efforts this year. We had a little bottleneck situation with ticket sales, but luckily, organizers sorted that out.

The President’s Choice 1000 Tastes of Toronto meant that there were more chefs showcasing their food. Luminato also welcomed more artists, musicians, filmmakers and dancers from all over the globe. And let’s not forget Cirque de Soleil, which performed for free for the crowd once the chefs tore down their tables. “One City One Table” was done serving food by 8pm.
With Kelly at our table

My team and I decided to make something simple and great. We went 80 per cent local, as in corn tortillas, queso fresco, onions and greenhouse tomatoes. We made an onion confit and used it as a sweet note. We made a loose coronet with the tortilla and stuffed it with queso fresco, the onion confit and a sexy avocado relish, and we handed to our happy customers in a banana leaf. I’m happy to report that it was a hit with all of our vegetarian friends.


Single tortilla; Vegetarians loved us.

Ready for the crowds

It was great watching people enjoy the food, particularly our groovy organic vessel. Let’s hear it for composting.

Special thanks to Adam McDowell of The National Post for mentioned me in his blog, as his favorite taste that day. It’s good to be notice.

Looking forward to be back next year!!!
Yours from the Luminato.

My cool good friend Jane Hayes [aka Garden Jane] introduced me to this exciting thing that’s been going on in High Park, just a couple of blocks from my house.
For the last 11 years, what Jane and some of her cohorts did was to establish The Children’s Garden, a program that provides kids and families an opportunity to learn how to grow organic fruits, vegetables and flowers from seed.

And we’re not talking small potatoes. The garden grows 110 fruits and vegetables, including tomatillos, okra and 10 kinds of Latino beans. That’s fantastic in my books.

Last summer harvest

Grand forces of good have also recognized the garden. Last year, the garden won the “David Suzuki Digs my Garden” award, beating out nearly 600 gardens from across the country.

For the last four years, Jane, city staffers Robin Salt and Keely Forth, and devoted volunteers like, Michael Nevin and Frank Iacobucci, have all been lobbying the city for permission to build a teaching kitchen, because they don’t stop at planting, growing and harvesting. There’s a Youth Cooking Program for 11 to 16-year-olds in July, and in August and October the garden hosts a feast bounty from its garden, cooked at the Masaryk-Cowan Centre and then schlepped over to the park and served to the community.


Showing up some tomatillos

This is where the teaching kitchen comes in. Putting it right next to the garden will open up a lot of new opportunities for connecting kids to where their food comes from and what it’s like to grow from seed and what to do with it once it’s ready for picking. It would also help with hosting the community festivals where the food picked from the garden will be cooked and served.
It’s important to note here that extra food harvested in the garden is given to shelters and soup kitchens all over the city.


The building is going to be as eco-positive as possible, beginning with the structure itself, to be made of straw bales, which get plastered and become great insulators. Solar panels will provide heat for water and running energy- efficient appliances and lighting. Fall 2010 is the projected unveiling, but in the meantime, the garden is campaigning for community support with their Adopt a Bale program.

Beautiful spring asparagus

But don’t wait to introduce your kids to the garden. It’s a perfect time to bring them to the park to see the beginning of a magical experience.You cant also check their website for dates and activities.

For all the staff and volunteers it’s like a miracle after all these years. The kitchen is finally opening here!!

Yours from High Park

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