How Chef-Partner Guillermo Pernot of Cuba Libre uses his semi-annual Cuba trips for inspiration.
Every six months, twenty food-loving adventurers join two-time James Beard Award-winning Chef-Partner Guillermo Pernot of Cuba Libre on an all-inclusive culinary excursion to Cuba to showcase the country’s culture, history, and cuisine.
This past March marked Chef Pernot’s fourth as a trip ambassador. Over the course of their 6-day, 5-night tour, Chef Pernot led his group of travelers around Havana and beyond: activities included private dinners led by renowned Cuban chefs, trips to The Havana Culinary School, farmers markets, tobacco plantations, rum museums, urban farms, fishing villages, cigar factories, and a journey by boat through Cuba’s natural historic caves. We caught up with Chef Pernot to capture the highlights of his journey.
While in Cuba, Chef Guillermo Pernot often teams up with local chefs at their privately-run restaurants, called paladares. Here, he demonstrates to trip attendees how a simple wood-burning grill can transform the flavor of a dish — vegetables, meats, or seafood — while cooking with his good friend and Cuban Chef, Ivan, at his restaurant Al Carbón.
This is a common scene in Havana — a street vendor with a rickety wooden cart selling the freshest of fruits and vegetables. After all, Cuba is a Caribbean island, so you know the produce is bueno.
What is fascinating about Cuba is how the country is seemingly stuck in time, with 1950s cars lining the cobblestone streets around Havana and ornate architecture on the facades of buildings that haven’t been touched in decades. As diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba improve, @cubalibrerestaurant’s Chef Pernot hopes that the lives of the nation’s people will, too. It’s a beautiful island rich with history, culture and of course, incredible cuisine, which has inspired Chef Pernot’s menu of classic and contemporary Cuban food, available at 2nd & Market in Old City or through Caviar for delivery.
The menu at Cuba Libre enjoys heavy influence from Chef Pernot’s semi-annual trips to Cuba — featuring authentic and classic Cuban dishes. Only the freshest ingredients are used to create the tapas, entrees, desserts and even cocktails (#mojitos, FTW) served in house, and delivered via Caviar. The Guacamole Cubano is served all day, every day — during lunch, weekend brunch AND dinner — and is made with fresh avocados, grilled golden pineapple, limes and roasted jalapeños. As for those crazy-looking chips? They’re crispy plantains — a staple of Cuban cuisine!
The Ropa Vieja is one of the most traditional dishes on Cuba Libre’s menu, featuring shredded beef brisket stewed with tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, red wine, and served with maduros and white rice. From the clásico dishes like this one to Chef Pernot’s contemporary “Latin Grill” dishes, the menu at Cuba Libre promises an unforgettable, incomparable taste of the storied island of Cuba — right here in Philly.