The single tweet that might mark a new beginning for Cuban cuisine

Posted: 13-Feb-16 17:02

When a challenge between two chefs was suddenly passed around the world, it kicked off a sort of revolution in the food industry. What began as a tweet and challenge between two world-renowned chefs has now evolved into a revolutionary dream that incorporates the talents of a third chef, all within a reimagined Cuban city.

The single tweet that might mark a new beginning for Cuban cuisine

A single tweet could be the catalyst for change when it comes to dining out in Cuba. It all began in November 2014 when two chefs joined together for two nights of cooking in Mexico City.

Enrique Olvera runs an empire of sorts in Mexico, known nationwide for a full range of menus at his restaurants, from inventive, cutting-edge cuisine to fast service dining. The tweet, however, originated from a night of collaboration at his Mexico City restaurant, Pujol.

Olvera commonly brings in guest chefs from around the world to cook with him, including Andoni Aduriz, of the restaurant Mugaritz, located near San Sebastian, Spain. Mugaritz is number six on the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants while Pujol is 16.

While the two displayed their own personal flair when it comes to cooking styles, at one point during the collaboration, The Wall Street Journal reports Olvera turned to the other chef and declared:

“We should do a project together.”

In response, Aduriz then replied,

“But I choose the place.”

This was followed not long afterwards with “Havana, Cuba”, a seemingly random location. Olvera quickly agreed, to which Aduriz jokingly offered up a sort of challenge. With that, Olvera is said to have grabbed his phone and tweeted out

“In a stroke of fortune @pujolrestaurant and @Mugaritz have reached an agreement to open a restaurant together in Havana, Cuba.”

It did not take long for others to take notice and congratulate the pair. Months later another world-renowned chef signed on to the project, Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana in Italy. The restaurant is second on the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. According to Aduriz:

“If three important chefs want to do something together, it’s big news. When you put it in Havana, suddenly the news becomes very big.”

The project is quite a feat in the country of Cuba where chefs lack even some of the most basic supplies and ingredients needed to prepare meals and run restaurants. Still, though, the restaurant business is currently booming, with around 4,000 locations as of late, up from just 250 in 2000.

The three chefs visited Cuba last December to make progress on this project. They met with a noted local artist to discuss how to move forward, gained support from the Italian Embassy, met with a Cuban government official from The Ministry of Culture and visited an organic farm just outside city limits. After visiting Cuba, now they understand the limitations, but remain optimistic for the future. According to Bottura:

“The rumours are spreading. We’re not in any rush, but we have something here, and most importantly, we’ve got good energy behind it.”


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