As a Cuban-American, it’s vital to celebrate the significant contributions that Hispanic and Latin Americans have made to the United States. We as a society that come from so many different backgrounds, which is why our country is so unique. We must never forget to share our culture, food, art, and philosophy with others.
My success can only be attributed to the hard work and sacrifice made by so many before me. My passion for cooking comes from my Grandmother Aya, In our humble kitchen, I learned the Cuban classics. It was in the family garden, I discovered an emotional connection between cooking and ingredients. “To grow the best product, you must take care of your soil, and then let nature take its course,” my Grandmother Aya always said.
If there could be one word to describe the Cuban culture, it’s generosity. The main reason I love cooking is to make people happy with food as my grandmother did every day for our family.
Chef Villanueva is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and he has worked for Chef Olivier Andreini, CMC as well as at two-Michelin Star Sergi Arola Gastro in Madrid and three-Michelin Star Martin Berasategui in San Sebastian, Spain. After returning to the U.S., he accepted a sous chef position at Craigie on Main, one of Boston’s best restaurants at the helm of James Beard Award winner Chef Tony Maws. Following that job, Chef Villanueva spent five years working for Cloud Catering & Events as chef de cuisine and three years as executive chef. He is currently the executive chef and director of culinary & operations for Puff N’ Stuff Catering in Tampa, Florida. Look for Chef Villanueva’s Classical v. Modern dishes in an upcoming issue of National Culinary Review.