Estrada Luis - Estrada, Luis

Luis Estrada

Biography

I’m a Cuban American born in Miami. I grew up in the nostalgia of South Beach and the Art Deco scene in the 305. Since the day I can remember I was always thinking about my next meal. I grew up with grandmothers that were probably cooking 12 hours of the day or at least that’s how it seemed. Where every 5 minutes they asked you if you were hungry. The smell when you walked into that house was like no other and the taste of the first bite made you close your eyes. It... READ MORE

I’m a Cuban American born in Miami. I grew up in the nostalgia of South Beach and the Art Deco scene in the 305. Since the day I can remember I was always thinking about my next meal. I grew up with grandmothers that were probably cooking 12 hours of the day or at least that’s how it seemed. Where every 5 minutes they asked you if you were hungry. The smell when you walked into that house was like no other and the taste of the first bite made you close your eyes. It brought family together, it made you tell stories but most of all it made you think of a country that may not have much but which had so much soul. The core of our passion for food and our desire to share it is deeply rooted by an unpredictable source, my Grandfather or as we called him Tito. You see he was a business owner in Cuba, who became a milkman for Borden upon arriving the U.S. in 66′ settling in Miami, later a Traveling Businessman for LUMS Corp and eventually gave it all up to follow his dream of owning a Cuban restaurant called “Mi Habana.” At 32 I was able to visit the beauty that is Cuba and it literally changed my Life. I had chats with my great grandmother Mama who was full of life at the age of 103 but who now rests in peace. I visited underground lounges where my cousin was a musician at and where the sounds of salsa, merengue and lazy bugalou filled the room with such energy that not even I can explain. I was able to walk into random people’s homes & listen to stories of people I didn’t know but it still seemed like family. These are called Paladares, which I guess you can say is a mini restaurant within your own home. I came back inspired to do what I’ve wanted to do my whole life. Open up a Ventanita in NYC and serve the people what I’ve grown up on my whole life. I want to speak for the Cuban people through food, through bites, by making you close your eyes. I want you to truly taste… CUBA!

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What is your favorite NYC restaurant? And what is your go-to dish? Carbone, and it’s not because I go there every week but because I dream about their Gnocchi with truffles repeatedly. What is your ultimate meal? Wow this is a tough one but I’ve always said that if I had to have a LAST meal it would be Rib eye, mash potatoes & Mac & Cheese. What three things are always in your pantry? Adobo, Rice & Beans. If you weren't a chef, what would you be? Well other than being a chef I’ve built a name for myself behind the bar in Miami/NYC. So I would say bartender. I love the interaction with regulars and different people every day. If you could cook with anyone, who would that be? Bobby Flay. His swag and love for Spanish style cooking is right where I’m at. I can see myself Bbq’ing with him and taking back a few beers. What’s your favorite NYCWFF memory? Rooftop birthday party. Just being surrounded by such amazing chefs was surreal and took me back to the moment I made the decision to move to NY from Miami.

Recipe name:
Abuelas Flan

Recipe Ingredients:
8 Eggs
1 dash of Cinnamon
1 tablespoon Vanilla extract
I can of condensed milk
1 can of evaporated milk
1 can of milk (same as evaporated)
2 cups of sugar

Recipe Instructions:
First put 2 cups of sugar to caramelize on a nonstick pan on medium. This process has to be babied because the sugar will cook up quick and if it burns you’ll need to repeat the process. Once the sugar is caramelized we’re going to transfer it to an oven safe casserole dish or loaf pan coating the whole bottom. Ina separate bowl we’re going to whisk together all the other ingredients or blend them together in a blender and pour over the caramelized sugar. Next we’re going to add an inch of water in a separate pan which we call el baño maria which is a process of cooking the flan with heat from the water and not directly from heat of the oven itself. Place in oven at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes until flan has risen. Let cool, transfer to a refrigerator for a couple of hours then flip and enjoy.