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OP: Nuevo Latino

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by Douglas Rodriguez

Though cultures have undoubtedly shared and blended cuisines throughout American history, the concept of “fusion” food really only emerged well into the twentieth century, as local styles such as border food and Tex-Mex took hold and as Norteamericano food traditions attracted cooks south of the Rio Grande. 

In the closing years of the last century a few chefs⁠—whose explicit goal was innovation⁠—started to leap-frog over the fusion concept and into a broader exploration of original ideas, experimentation, and innovation. 

At first these chefs were mainly white Americans⁠—Stephen Pyles in Dallas, Norman VanAken in Miami, Mark Miller in Santa Fe⁠—seeking fresh and unexpected ways to work with traditional ingredients. In time, however, hispanic cooks and chefs began to emerge, surmounting the prejudices that had long kept them out of the upper ranks of restaurant kitchens. The unquestioned pioneer in this emergence was Douglas Rodriguez (1968–  ), an energetic, young cook of Cuban descent who grew up in Miami and opened a small Cuban restaurant there at the age of 21. 

It was Rodriguez’s decision to tackle New York City that propelled him into the world of high-powered cuisine. His restaurant there, Patria, which opened in 1994, was his laboratory for applying a thoroughly contemporary touch to the ingredients and techniques that Americans took to with enthusiasm. The style he forged⁠—dubbed Nuevo Latino⁠—not only propelled him to celebrity status but also established that the food of Latin America could serve as a base for haute cuisine as well as French or Italian had done in their turns. 

This book, published in 1995, is a handsome, color-filled album of his work containing such offerings as a chicken criollo with malanga-goat cheese puree, sweet pea ginger flan with fried oysters, and a ravishing apple tres leches Americana. We are pleased to offer an unused first printing in Near Fine condition.

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