A Chef on the 14th Floor

The chef José Andrés cooking in the kitchen of the 14ymedio newsroom. (14ymedio)

The chef José Andrés cooking in the kitchen of the 14ymedio newsroom. (14ymedio)

14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 18 April 2016 — José Andrés arrived in Havana at the best and worst moment of the year. One of the most famous chefs in the world knocked on the door of the 14ymedio newsroom the same day that Barack Obama was saying goodbye to the Cuban people. The shortages in the markets were an incentive rather than an obstacle for the Spaniard who moves easily between the glamorous kitchens of Washington DC and the wood fires of an impoverished Haiti.

In his fingers, each ingredient becomes pure magic. “What do you have?” He asked. And the answer reflected this period of empty shelves in stores. However, the art of cooking is to combine precisely what there is, the ability to convert the little one has at hand into have something marvelous for the palate.

In Cuba you need to be more alchemist than cook to turn out a tasty dish.

There he was, in our newsroom, this Paracelsus of the stove. “What do you have?” He asked again. Very little. Since early this year, with the price increases imposed by the government on many of the food markets and the absence of goods in the stores that sell in hard currency, it is difficult to buy everything from a cabbage to a pound of chicken. On the shelf, a package of Russian oats, scored in 2010, lights up the eyes of chef José Andrés. “We are going to do something with this,” he boasts.

Uniting the elements – including some he had bought under the counter in the streets of Havana – he turned a few somersaults and emerged from the kitchen with steaming and unique dishes. The great chef had climbed to the 14th floor to create an unforgettable dinner on a historic day.

51 thoughts on “A Chef on the 14th Floor

    MIAMI HERALD EDITORIAL : The Cuban revolution, with one foot in the grave — The cadaverous image presented by Fidel Castro on the closing day of the Communist Party Congress in Havana mirrors the decrepit state of the Cuban government, as well as its increasingly bleak future. Like Marxist ideology, the 89-year-old Castro looked like an utterly spent force as he gazed forlornly into the audience of party members and offered what may prove to be his valedictory to the party. The party congress came as a huge disappointment to Cubans who hoped it would offer a glimpse of a better political future. The meeting failed to resolve key issues and closed the door on generational change. While Fidel pleaded with party members to allow the revolution to survive even as he fades into oblivion, his 84-year-old brother, Raúl, gave himself one more five-year term as the Communist Party’s first secretary, and allowed feared hardliner José Ramón Machado Ventura, 85, to remain second in command.

    The decision means Raúl Castro can hold onto the position of party chairman, the pinnacle of power in the communist system, well past the date of his announced retirement as Cuba’s president in 2018.

    All the while, he’ll have by his side an even older henchman known as the enforcer of party discipline and as an implacable foe of economic reform. Even Raúl himself has criticized Machado Ventura for orthodox rigidity, but that apparently is no barrier to power.

    Don’t look for fresh faces or younger people associated with free-market reforms — which Raúl Castro himself has blessed — among the five new members named to the powerful

    Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/editorials/article72735617.html#storylink=cpy

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