Chef Maricel Presilla of Cucharamama - Biography

Hoboken, NJ

August 2012

Maricel Presilla is slightly more bookish than your average culinary professional. She holds a doctorate in medieval Spanish history from New York University and received formal training in cultural anthropology. She combines that academic swagger with her passion for food as a chef and culinary historian specializing in the cuisines of Latin America and Spain.

Over the course of her career, Dr. Presilla has done considerable research on Latin American agriculture, with special emphasis on cacao and vanilla farming, as well as chocolate production. She is the president of Gran Cacao Company, a Latin American food research and marketing company that specializes in the sale of premium cacao beans from Latin America. And she’s also the pen behind 2001’s The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History of Chocolate with Recipes.

As if Presilla needed any more accreditations, the James Beard Foundation recently named her “Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic” for her South American cooking at Hoboken, New Jersey’s Cucharamama. The Cuban-born Presilla also cooks at nearby Zafra and for the recently opened Ultramarinos, a Latin American store and “cooking atelier,” also in Hoboken. In addition to her first cookbook, a weekly column for the Miami Herald, and articles for Saveur, Food & Wine, Food Arts, and Gourmet, Dr. Presilla has an encyclopedic cookbook, Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America, forthcoming from W. W. Norton in October 2012.