A gourmet is a person with a delicate, refined palate, a sophisticated connoisseur of combinations of flavors with the ability to discover and certify quality. That word also refers us to a whole philosophy associated with the restoration, origin and preparation of food products, also known as gastrosophy. The term gourmet, refers to serving and presenting a table, which involves dressing well, good music, and a real bon vivant lifestyle that sublimates pleasures and makes them into spectacle.
Cuba is going through a gastronomy boom. The perception of basic gastronomy left by the harshest years of economic crisis has been left behind, and excellence is striving to take over, to find a space among the new businesses that are opening. Traditional Cuban cooking is adopting other nuances. Good cuisine is being made from what can be found at the market, and the standards of the most refined palate are being raised.
This momentum is being checked by difficult access to fresh and exclusive products and the impossibility of importing many raw materials that are essential for high-level food services. In the context of the island’s current economic opening, OnCuba selected some of the best restaurants in Havana and launched this questions: Does gourmet exist in Cuba?
For trying to do gourmet, the most important thing at Castropol is the creativity and seriousness with which we work, even when we don’t have the high quality raw materials needed to do so. Without that, it’s very difficult to do gourmet. Nevertheless, we offer a wide variety of attractive and competitive dishes for the most demanding tastes.
Calle Malecón no. 107 e/ Genios y Crespo, Centro Habana, La Habana (537) 861 4864/[email protected]
I think that according to the type of culture and cooking found in each country, the concept can be regionalized to make a gourmet excellence service with certain standards to be met, but each one conserving its identity.
When we designed the concept for our restaurant, we did not do so with a gourmet character. However, the restaurant’s entire menu has a very contemporary image. At El Litoral, we have many types of fish, a lot of variety, and we always try to have it fresh; sometimes the fish comes in during the day and never reaches the freezer. We are always rethinking what we have, offering a different, pleasant, and interesting option.
Malecón no. 161 e/ K y L, El Vedado, La Habana (+537)7 8302201/ Cel. (+53)5 3446191/ www.ellitoralhabana.com
We could say that yes, gourmet is being done in Cuba. For me, the concept can be a little bit flexible; it means coming to the table and finding an initiative, a mixture of things that can interesting in flavor, cooking, finish…. At Café Laurent, we work with the fusion of traditional Cuban food and today’s international standards, in portions, cooking, presentation, and image.
Calle M e/ 19 y 21, no. 257 Penthouse, El Vedado, La Habana, (537) 831 2090 / 832 6890/ [email protected]
Alberto Jesús Álvarez
Chef, Río Mar
If we look for interesting ways to present our traditional cuisine, and to experiment with it, then we are doing gourmet. For example, we could place ropa vieja [beef stew] on casabe [yucca flatbread] and it would have a lot of style. Gourmet is a philosophy of life, but it is also a commercial term, a marketing strategy for distinguishing a social class with more refined tastes.
Calle 3ra. y Final no. 11, La Puntilla, Miramar, (537) 209 48 38/ [email protected]
Atelier is a workshop of creation and good taste. The type of customers we have gives us an idea of how we’re doing our job. Every morning we go out to the market to buy whatever is there and we change our menu to offer our customer an excellent meal, well-presented and with many nuanced flavors. With that training and the ideal conditions, Cuba could be one of the places where you could really enjoy great food.
Calle 5ta. no. 511 altos, e/ Paseo y A, El Vedado, La Habana, (537) 836 2025/ [email protected]
A real movement is growing today that is going to radically change what has been known as Cuban cooking. I think that it would be very positive to have international exchange, fairs, and festivals; for cooks to come from other countries and present what’s happening in the world; and, to the extent possible, for our cooks to participate in events elsewhere so that they can bring themselves up-to-date. Open every day.
Concordia no. 418 e/ Gervasio y Escobar, Centro Habana, La Habana, (537) 866 9047/[email protected]
You can say that there is top-quality food, fabulous food, without quite being gourmet.
Aguacate no. 9, esquina a Chacón, La Habana Vieja, La Habana
(537) 863 96 97, (53) 5 343 85 40, [email protected] yahoo.com
Chef, Le Chansonnier
Before the emergence of paladars (private restaurants), you would go to the market and find the same products year-round, the basics, but for some time now there has been more variety, especially with the development of the organic urban gardens, and I believe that is because of the growth of restaurant services in Cuba. But have you ever wondered why there are no “Michelin stars” in Cuba?
Calle J no. 257, e/ 15 y Línea, El Vedado, La Habana, (+537) 8321576
Gourmet is a product, it’s quality, even if all you’re doing is presenting two plantain chips with cream of tomato. It’s just tomatoes, fruits and fantasy; that’s what chefs are for: to create, to extrapolate from things that other people can’t see.
Calle 25 no. 454 e/ J e I, El Vedado, La Habana, (537) 8320963, (53)5 270 72 98/[email protected]