Chef Carlos Fuenmayor is the owner and chef of Sabrosito, a private catering company where he specializes in in-home parties, as well as larger events, often with a teaching and Latino focus. He also offers cooking classes, both privately and through organizations such as the LCBO. He is Cordon Bleu trained and loves classical French cuisine, but his roots are South American, which is why his work celebrates Pan-Latino cooking and culture. He is a blogger and loves to dance.
What inspired you to become a chef?
My grandmother Wilma, who took care of us when we were kids and was a great cook.
I’m a little late to the game with spinach – it probably should have made my list earlier in the year, seeing as it’s considered a spring vegetable. But it’s definitely still going strong at the markets, so better late than never.
Like our friend Popeye will tell you, spinach is a nutritional powerhouse, providing more nutrition, calorie for calorie, than any other food. 1 cup of cooked spinach offers over 1000% of our daily required intake of Vitamin K and 377% of our required Vitamin A. It’s also high in manganese, folate, magnesium, iron and Vitamin C. Spinach may contribute to heart health, better eyesight, better brain function from the high levels of Vitamin E, and better gastrointestinal function. It’s also got anti-inflammatory properties. Cooked spinach also provides energy, mostly in the form of iron.
Thought to have originated in Persia, spinach made its way to China via traders (roughly around 650 AD) where it came to be known as the “Persian vegetable”. Spinach was introduced to Italy and the Mediterranean in the 800s and from Spain made its way to Northern Europe. Catherine de’Medici was so enamoured of spinach that during her reign as Queen of France, she insisted it be served at every meal. Named after her hometown of Florence, to this day, dishes that feature spinach are typically called Florentine.
The Day of the Dead is not a day of mourning in Latin America, but a day of celebration. Families gather at the graves of loved ones who have passed and have a party. They bring the deceased’s favourite foods, music and things in a celebration honouring their life. This annual event, which takes place on November 1st and 2nd (coinciding with All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day), is a day of feasting and joy.
To coincide with this year’s Day of the Dead, 7 local Latin American chefs have joined forces for a one-night extravaganza that is sure to have diners jumping and the dead wishing they were here to take part.
OLA – Of Latin America (“7 chefs, 1 kitchen, 1 hot night”) will take place on October 26th at Caju Restaurant with proceeds from the event directed toward the charity Youth Link which allows street kids to make a new start. Tickets are $100 or $140 with wine pairings.
The evening is also a celebration of local Latin American cookery, with the participating chefs hailing from Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Venezuela. Each chef has taken on a course in this 7-course meal but everyone is pitching in to help each other in the spirit of co-operation. During the media preview, at one point we all stopped mid-bite as the chefs started singing together in Caju’s kitchen. And if that’s what happens at the preview luncheon, just imagine how much fun the dinner itself is sure to be!
Each dish will be accompanied by Latin American wine pairings selected by sommelier Drew Innis.
The OLA – Of Latin America event is sold out as of publication of this article, but don’t let that stop you from checking out the work of the participating chefs at their own establishments.