I was born in Havana, Cuba in a hot morning of August 1972. I can’t complain about my childhood too much, besides the fact that almost all I know today comes from those times. I got into cooking very early in my life.
Being born in a poor communist country; means that the mothers and grandmothers spend much time in the kitchen, preparing meals from scratch. We did not go out to eat almost at all, there is no pizza delivery and restaurants were not affordable, at least for my family. Thanks heavens for that. I was always in the kitchen with my two grandmas and my mom. They each had their specialty. I was a sponge taking every little advice and technique and storing it in my little brain.
By the time I was nine years old I made my first from scratch dish. It was fritters and I gave my Dad and allergic reaction I still remember today. When I turn 10 I made a Lemon Sponge Cake for my birthday and the neighbors liked it so much that they asked me to make one for them. I made 3 pesos, almost 15 cents of a dollar. That was the beginning of my cooking journey.
I graduated from High school and went to college. It was 1992 and the collapse of the Communist Countries affected our country so bad that I had to leave college to make some money for me and the family. It was then that looking to get into culinary school (which was impossible back then without good contacts) I found myself studying to become a Tourist Entertainer. It was an amazing couple of years. I learned a lot about people and how to make them laugh and encourage them to have fun. That is why, I think, I can do TV and cooking classes today. In any case, during that time I also got to meat many people from all over the world, which I still have the privilege to consider them my friends today.
I arrived to America on May 27 of 2000. It was a scary experience, but at the end It was all for good. After a few weeks in a processing center I was allowed to enter the country and there I was in my way to Miami from Texas. That was 3 days on a Greyhound that I will not forget, but there was more of that to come. I only stayed in Miami for a week and after that took another Greyhound for 5 days to Salt Lake City. Do I want to remember that ride? No. Have I forgotten it? Not either.
In July 3rd I got to Salt Lake City. It was a beautiful day and next day we went to Provo, UT for the 4th of July parade. That was the first time I realized how different the culture of this country was to the one I was just coming from. It is amazing how much you can say about a culture just by looking at how people celebrate.
My first job in Salt Lake was remodeling houses; it was not easy since I had never done that before and just looking for tools was a lengthy task because I did not know the names. Soon enough I started working in a kitchen with Rick Esparsa at Urban Bistro. After that we both went and opened Orbit Café, in which I was the pastry Chef. A couple of jobs after that I found myself as the Pastry Chef of Juhl Hause “Former Cheese House” and it was there, where I met Marie Pitcher. I made this awesome Cream of Tomato Soup and she was so delighted she wanted to meet me. She offered me a job teaching classes at Roth Concept Center and I have been doing that ever since. Click here to find more about it.
In 2002 I met Sam Granato and he hired me to be his cook. After a couple of month I became the kitchen manager and in a period of 6 years we went from a tiny bakery to a 4000 square feet bakery that produces a large variety of breads, pastries and foods for places all over the Valley. It was a privilege for me to work for so long with a company that is known all over Utah and then some. Sam and Ann Granato's will always be close to me as well as all the people that I worked with during all those years.
TV was something interesting. I was called in 2001 to do a segment for channel 2 and I guess they liked me so much that they kept calling me all the time. By 2003 I was already doing News at 11 on channel 13. I was the first Chef doing a cooking segment of the News at 11. I also did around a year and a half worth of cooking segments for a Miami TV Station “Americateve”. I really enjoy the fact that I am sharing my recipes with so many people.
From 2008 to 20011 I instructed as a full time instructor, the first semester students at Utah Valley University Culinary Arts Institute in artisan breads, pies, quick breads, desserts and other bakery goods in the Canyon Park campus where the classes are located. I love science and technology and I love to apply then into my everyday teaching of the baking art.
I was awarded the 2009 and 2011 Pastry Chef of the Year from the Beehive Chapter of the American Culinary Federation. I won the title for 2011 Western Regional Pastry Chef of the Year.
On December of 2011 I started working for Harmons Groceries as Chef Instructor at the New City Creek Culinary Center. It was an amazing experience and I loved working with the people of the store. Met a lot of amazing customer and co-workers.
In July of 2012 I won the title of American Culinary Federation National Pastry Chef of the Year. It is a great honor to be recognized for my work by my piers this is without doubt one of the highest points in my career.
In march 2013 I left Harmons to pursue my dream of opening my own pastry shop. Let me tell you. opening Fillings and Emulsions “F&E” has been a great learning experience. I will be writing more about in the blog. Come and visit and try one of our delicious creations. I have an amazing team and partner and we pride ourself with making some of the best pastries in town.
I also want to say that there is a few of people that have been with me very close during all this years. They know who they are and I would have not been able to get to where I am today without them. My Mom, Rafa, Mike, Jim, Stephen, Lidia, Brian, Katie Thank you very much for being part of my life.