Latin Times Magazine: Tell us about your family, and your background?
Doreen Colondres: I come from a family of cooks. My grandpa from my dad’s side was a professional cook and always and inspiration to all the family. From my mom’s side my grandparents were all about food. For breakfast, lunch and dinner it was always a ceremony in the house. Every single reunion or event was about food. It was a blessing that they a lot of fruits and vegetables in their backyard because they taught me to respect and love fresh ingredients. Even my parents were always very conscious about what I was eating and the portions. I remember driving 1-2 hours to the east coast on weekends to buy fresh fish to cook at home. I also remember having to wait a few days to get fresh cheese from a friend of the family that made fresh mozzarella cheese at his pizzeria. Only on those days, once the fresh cheese had arrived, would my Mom prepare lasagna or “Pastelón”, a Puerto Rican version of lasagna but instead of pasta it’s made using yellow plantains. That’s how I started to become a food lover and I ended up cooking for my family since the age of 9 years old.
Latin Times Magazine: When did you know you wanted to be a chef?
Doreen Colondres: I studied marketing and public relations first and I worked in that field for a few years but food was always my hobby since I was very little. Everybody that knows me from my childhood can assure that. I was always cooking for friends and sending them emails with markets and restaurants I visited around the world. But about 7 years ago I realized that to be happy you need to do what you love, you have to fight for your dreams and wake up every day loving what you do in life because it’s all about passion. I did some TV in the past so I knew I wanted to go back, but it was an idea from my friend and amazing professional photographer Omar Cruz who told me “why you don’t do on TV what you do with me and all friends all the time, there is no one like you on tv”. I was shocked at the beginning but it only took me a month to create La Cocina No Muerde. That’s how I started sharing my stories and recipes with new friends around the world. Then, I knew I had to go back to school to become a professional cook and until now I’ve studying and studying to share everything I know with my friends and extended family through my webpage.
Latin Times Magazine: What is your most favorite dish to create?
Doreen Colondres: That’s a difficult question, I love to cook everything, I just need good company to get inspired. If I’m cooking for myself on a regular day, pork, beef and veal stews are my favorites. Sometimes Peruvian style, Ecuadorian style, Spanish style or Puerto Rican style of course. This is the best part of knowing other cuisines you can combine them to create new experiences.
Latin Times Magazine: What advice can you give to young aspiring Chefs?
Doreen Colondres: The best advice I could give would be to respect the ingredients, never stop studying and never stop growing in your career and travel as much as you can. If you can’t travel read, read and read so you really understand any type cuisine before cooking it and “selling” it as “x or y” country. This world is huge, there are no limits and there is an opportunity for each talented and creative person, work hard and do it!
Latin Times Magazine: Who is YOUR favorite Latino Chef?
Doreen Colondres: When asked this, too many names come to mind and most of them from Spain probably. I think our cuisine is always inspired by some Spanish cuisine but Diana Kennedy and Gastón Acurio are on my top list. Diana was not born in Mexico but she is almost a Mexican. She spent all her live studying Mexican cuisine and writing books to educate the world about the real Mexican food before anybody else. Gastón Acurio is a “flag” for Perú. What he did by making Peruvian cuisine a trend around the world is simply amazing. He not only helped his country making it even more popular but he open a new world of ideas and flavors for every single cook or Chef in the world. I follow him since before he was popular and now everybody follows him, it’s admirable, seeing him on a cover of a book with Ferran Adria from Spain.
Latin Times Magazine: Do you know how to make a Cuban sandwich?
Ha! ha! ha! OF COURSE! And my secret is: tasty bread, flavorful home-made pork and ham, pork and cheese grilled with fresh garlic olive oil or the juice of the pork before going inside the bread. Try it!