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Latin Food at the Inaugural Meadows Musical Festival

This weekend at the inaugural two-day music fest, The Meadows, in Citi Field on Oct. 1 and Flushing Meadows Corona Park on Oct. 2, there will be a diverse array of mostly Latin food vendors ready to whip you up some grub just for $25.

Tortas Neza, which has a 4.5 rating out of five rating on Yelp will have a spot at the festival and will be dishing out Mexican mini pork tacos. If you want to check out Tortas outside the festival, it is located at 96-15 Roosevelt Ave Corona, NY 11368. 

If you are looking for something more South American, then grab a bite at the Arepa Lady food stand and have a taste of the Colombian arepa dish. Like Tortas, Arepa Lady has a 4.5 rating on Yelp. If you don’t get a chance to check them out at the festival you can find them at 77-02 Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights.

Another staple of Jackson Heights that will be found at The Meadows festival is La Esquina Del Cameron Mexicano. Similar to Tortas and Arepa, La Esquina also has a 4.5 rating on Yelp. La Esquina will be making Mexican ceviche. At just a few blocks from Arepa, La Esquina can be found at 80-02 Roosevelt Avenue.

The non-Latin foods that will be featured at The Meadows include Than noodle soup from Pata Paplean and Nepalese momos from Dhaulagiri Kitchen. Pata can be found in Elmhurst and Dhaulagiri is in Jackson Heights.

It wouldn’t quite be a music fest without drinks. The Manzarita by Don Julio uses unique spices to get you in the mood for Fall. It has fresh squeezed apple juice, just a hint of lemon, and elderflower liqueur, a dash of cinnamon and a slice of apple. The scent of the cocktail will leave you wanting more. If you want to show friends what you are drinking, there will be a photo booth by the Manzarita truck. 

Other cocktails include Tito’s Harvest, which will have apple cider, vodka and cinnamon. At this station you will find a build your own Bloody Mary bar. Larceny will have three cocktails for you to try. There will be the Larceny Bourbon Peach Cobbler, Larceny Buck and Larceny Locked and Loaded. Last , but not least is The 1893 Ginger and Mint Julep Remix by Pepsi-Cola. Pepsi will have several cola inspired cocktail with different combinations of rum, gin, vodka, coconut, vanilla, and elderflower made by a mixologist. 

If you are a non-drinker, there will be sober drinks and a watering station.

Headlining day one of the festival is J. Cole, and for day two first up will be Kanye West. For more details on the musical lineup, foods, drinks and directions, go to www.themeadows.com.

Queen’s First Hip-Hop Festival

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On Friday, Sept. 23 the inaugural Queens Hip Hop Festival will kick off at 10 p.m. at Flattops in Astoria.

The three-day event is the brainchild of entrepreneur and blogger Ashley Dean, 25, who goes by the name of Queen of Astoria, which is also the name of her events planning business.

As a big lover of all aspects of hip-hop and Queens artists such as A Tribe Called Quest, Nas, and Puerto Rican star Noreaga, also known as N.O.R. E., Dean felt that it was time for the borough to have a music fest that represents its cultural impact on the genre.
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I don’t think there is an event that I know of that really just celebrates Queens [hip-hop]. There is obviously a Brooklyn hip-hop festival, but there is nothing to showcase the talent in Queens and that currently pay respects to the greats that came out of the borough,” says Dean.

For Dean, hip-hop is not just a bunch of songs that comes out the radio.its more than just the music,

“It’s more than just the music, it’s about community and predominantly what is affecting the urban community, whether it be music, what’s in the news … and it compasses art, film, and dance,” says Dean.

All of the artists at the Queens Hip Hop Festival and 95 percent of the businesses, which will have representation there, are from the borough.

“In general, there aren’t a lot of venues that showcase hip-hop, so I thought it was important to make a stand out of that,” said Dean.

Dean hopes to grow the new annual event to further help the Queens community.

“I want to add educational components for kids and adults, and a volunteer outreach portion as well. The main goal is to get it throughout the borough, not just in western Queens,” says Dean.

Dean also helps out monthly at the Pan Am homeless shelter in Elmhurst and works with the youth leadership program Road to Greatness in Sunnyside.

“The borough really need this. There isn’t a lot hip hop [venues] here or things to do for young people,” says Dean.

I just wanted to start something to celebrate all of the hip-hop that comes out of the borough and just the community of artists that have come out of Queens and the future of hip-hop.”

Now, thanks to the Queen of Astoria, there will be. Flattops is located at 33-06 Ditmars Blvd and will have music from DJ Rob Swift and feature an open cypher.

On Saturday, there will be a free art show in QNS Collective from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 36-27 on 36th Street. A graffiti walk will take place at 4 p.m. at 31-05 28th Road Astoria. Shillelagh  Tavern at 47-22 30th Avenue in Astoria will have a concert from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. featuring artists Wordsmiff, Cake Man Maine, ConflikMelSwimsGood, Jon Lewis and DJ ButchRock.

Sunday at the Museum of the Moving Image there will be a screening of Belly starting 3 p.m. at 36-01 35th Avenue. The Blvd. Brunch Closing Party at La Gloria, which is located at 86-11 Northern Blvd., Jackson Heights, will be where the fest come to an end.

For tickets go to www.queenshiphopfestival.com.

Dominican Designer EMILIO SOSA Reimagines Rockettes Costumes For New Era

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Originally published in the June 2016 issue of LatinTRENDS magazine

By Christine Stoddard

When Emilio Sosa was three years old, his family made the great pilgrimage from Santo Domingo to The Bronx—and stayed. Their exodus was, as Sosa puts it, an effort to chase after the “American Dream.”“But we struggled,” he told LatinTRENDS at a recent press event.

Now Sosa, 43, who you may recognize from Season 7 of “Project Runway,” is designing for the iconic Rockettes—or,as he tells it, achieving that American Dream.Despite his early struggles,the young Dominican-American began studying art early and eventually become a TONY Award-nominated costume and fashion designer.

“My mother, bless her,never let me  go without,” he said. “I always had art supplies.” Sosa added that though it wasn’t easy for his father to accept this artistic dreams, he did.This year, the Rockettes New York Spectacular will open June 15 and run through August 7. In 2015, the show sold nearly 300,000 tickets over the course of its eight-week run. Previously,the show was called the New York Spring Spectacular, but has been rescheduled for the summer to accommodate the tourists that flock to the city then.

During the summer months, New York City sees a significant increase in tourism and shifting the production will provide an opportunity for even more people to experience this dazzling musical celebration starring the Rockettes,” said David O’Connor, president and CEO of The Madison Square Garden Company, in a press release.Sosa joins a long legacy of costume designers and other theatre artists whose work has made the Rockettes an American stage classic.But even though the precision dance company has performed at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan since 1932, nothing about the show feels old.The Rockettes have gotten a major makeover. The show has been modernized for a contemporary American audience that loves today’s pop music and threads from a fashion-forward thinker.But Sosa isn’t giving anything away about the new looks.

“Come to Manhattan,” he said. “You have to see this show.”

Order your tickets at http://www.newyorkcitytheatre.com/theaters/radiocitymusichall/theater.php.

 

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→See for more of this story in this month’s issue of LatinTRENDS Magazine.

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Orgullo – What My Family Taught Me About Pride

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Originally published in the June 2016 issue of LatinTRENDS magazine

By  Nancy Arroyo Ruffin

When I was a young girl I spent every Sunday at my grandfather’s house in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. While dinner brought us together, it was not the principal reason everyone gathered in the railroad-style apartment. The time spent together was critical to nurturing our family bond. Being part of a large Puerto Rican family instilled in me a strong love for familia, cultura, and orgullo. To me, pride is love for the culture, food, and music. It’s the reason my eyes tear up every time I hear Preciosa or Qué Bonita Bandera.

Cultura is rooted in family traditions like the sleepless nights spent in my abuelo’s house watching the adults make pasteles for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. It was watching my aunts become transfixed to the television whenever Walter Mercado came on and revealed to them their fate through their horoscopes. Orgullo was me proudly wearing the brown leather chancletas with Puerto Rico inscribed on them in bright golden letters. It was being able to brag to my friends that I’d spent my summer vacation on the island even though I could barely communicate with my Spanish-speaking tia. And familia didn’t necessarily always mean someone in your bloodline, but instead could be found in that one friend who you proudly claimed as your cousin even though there was no ancestral relation.

While the island is now suffering the greatest financial crisis in its history we must remember Puerto Ricans come from a long line of hardworking individuals, many who have made indelible contributions to the world, be it on the island or here in the States.

There’s a long list of Boricuas who have contributed to politics, science, medicine, music, and the arts. Our contributions are everywhere. It is our responsibility to honor and preserve our history while also adding to it, so that we leave our children a legacy they can be proud of.

My family showed me by their example to be orgullosa of my Puerto Rican heritage while simultaneously teaching me to love everything this great country of ours has to offer. I’ve learned that pride is instilled. It is what you carry with you every day of your life.

 

Puerto Ricans Who Make Us Proud!

  • Poet Julia de Burgos
  • Astronaut Joseph Michael Acaba
  • Scientist Olga D. González-Sanabria
  • Inventor Ángel Rivero Méndez (He invented Kola Champagne soda.)
  • Athlete Roberto Clemente
  • Actress Rita Moreno
  • Musicians Jennifer López, Marc Anthony, Tito Puente
  • Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

 

The hammock and the cooking grill were first invented and used in Puerto Rico by the Taino Indians.

 


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La India Is still the Princess of Salsa

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Originally published in the May 2016 issue of LatinTRENDS magazine

By Deyanira Martínez

When she was still a teenager, Linda Viera-Caballero took her first steps in the music industry with the Latino freestyle group TKA. That shy Puerto Rican girl eventually turned into La India, one of the most popular and successful women in the history of salsa music.

She arrived in The Bronx, New York, when she was just a few months old, and family problems forced her to stand on her own two feet from early on. However, loneliness and inexperience did not prevent her strong, impressive voice from being discovered by one of salsa’s greatest, pianist Eddie Palmieri. Their pairing kicked off the success story of “The Princess of Salsa,” a nickname Celia Cruz, her music godmother, gave her.

Thirty years have passed since then, and La India just returned from recording with one of the greatest singers of all time, Juan Gabriel.

La India is back and full of energy to present an album written especially for her by the Mexican crooner. She is also planning a large-scale concert in her native Puerto Rico, and her theme song for Colombian hit telenovela “Sin tetassi hay paraiso” is currently being played on the radio throughout Latin America.

A beautiful Caribbean woman of indigenous features, strong, decisive and radiating tropical flavor, La India spoke passionately about her life, her career and her plans.

 

30 YEARS IN MUSIC

“I find it amazing that I’m still here. I was the first one to cross over from Latin freestyle dance music to tropical music.”

 

CUBA’S GUARACHERA: CELIA CRUZ

“She baptized me along with her husband, and made me her godchild. Celia was like a mother to me. I was estranged from my own family. I was kicked out of my home when I was very young, and suffered a lot.

Celia was an important figure in my life. She never had children, so she saw me as her daughter. We had a very spiritual connection. She was a beautiful human being, and she gave me the advice and support I didn’t have from my mother at that time.”

 

MUSIC IN YOUR LIFE

“Music is sacred to me. It’s a way to vent, to feel the emotions many people have inside but are afraid to feel. I have a wonderful following who love me. It’s not just about making it, but about staying there, and I am here to stay. I love what I do. After Celia, I have been the only woman who has sold albums, who has had her own orchestra.”

 

WORKING WITH JUAN GABRIEL

“I am very proud of this album. Working with him was incredible. We have very similar chemistry; we’re both intense. His songs have been popular for decades, and he was the one who chose the songs for me for this album.

Juan Gabriel is such an incredibly intelligent, brilliant person… it was so cool of him to give me this opportunity.”

 

THE FUTURE OF SALSA

“It is important to preserve salsa now that we have this new urban music boom. In the 80s, Dominican meringue arrived in New York and salsa declined a lot but, for some reason, it returned. In the 90s, we had romantic salsa, and the rhythm was reinvented by people like Eddie Santiago and Frankie Ruiz, and revived. Later, the new generation came: La India, my hit Vivir lo nuestro” with ‘El Flaco’ (Marc Anthony), a song that took both our careers to the next level.”

 

GENDER DISCRIMINATION IN-TROPICAL MUSIC

“Financially, I am not at a man’s level in music, but I am still here, giving love to my audience. Unfortunately, men have more opportunities and make more money. Even Celia earned less than men, and she told me that this was the down side of the business. Still, she always pushed me to keep going.

Singers such as Celia and La Lupe are no win the world of truth, with God in heaven, but they have left their legacy behind. I am alive, and I will not stop until women are supported the way we deserve.”

POLITICS

“I am a Republican, but I am going to vote for Hillary Clinton because I am a feminist, because she is a woman and because she deserves it. Clinton can represent the United States honorably.

As a Republican, I am very disappointed in the Party, and I will support a woman to become president. On Election Day, I will fly in from Puerto Rico to vote for and support Hillary Clinton in New York.”

 

LOVE LIFE

“At the moment, I am single. Not because I want to, but because I feel that, ever since I became famous, many men approach me because I am La India, not because I am Linda Viera-Caballero. I decided not to fall in love again and to focus on my work, reach goals and get where I deserve to be.

All my love and passion are dedicated to my work and my career right now. My arms are open, and I have faith that, one day, my moment will come and a gentleman will show up who understands my work and is not intimidated by my successor by me making more money than him.”

 

PLAN AND PROJECTS

“I will not stop until awards recognize my trajectory and what I am doing with this album, and I will not accept excuses that salsa is not the way it used to be. We have released two number-one hits, and we’ll continue working because the world needs to know that SALSA IS ALIVE.”

The New GEORGE LOPEZ in “Lopez,” for TV Land

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Originally published in the May 2016 issue of LatinTRENDS magazine

By Christine Stoddard

If you think fame and fortune will solve all of your woes, just ask George Lopez. But you don’t have to put on your best high heel sand trot over to Madison Avenue’s Lotte New York Palace Hotel in a frenzy like I did. In fact, you would probably prefer hearing Lopez‘s story from the comfort of your own home, not a hotel room set up like a television studio, with lights in your face and a sudden stutter wrestling your tongue. (I’m told it’s normal to be nervous when you finally meet your heroes.)

Instead, grab a drink and your favorite soda and park yourself on the sofa, because George Lopez has a new show on TV Land. Yes, like his other material, this show is semi-autobiographical, but that doesn’t mean you know exactly what to expect. This is “Lopez,” a half-hour comedy starring and executive produced by George Lopez himself. And “Lopez” is about George Lopez now.

Lopez” explores George Lopez as a man who’s made it: He has the mansion, the adoring fans, the fancy clothes. He’s living the pie-in-the-sky American dream. Yet, he still struggles because it seems the American dream cannot be fully achieved without white privilege. He doesn’t fit in with his old barrio buddies in the San Fernando Valley.

Even if, culturally, he’s a fit, money has changed him. But Lopez doesn’t fit in with the predominantly white, upper-class Hollywood crowd,either. Even though, it’s where he now “belongs” due to his financial position,they don’t accept him and he doesn’t exactly like them. As a brown-skinned Latino from a working class background, wealth alone can’t buy Lopez the respect he wants from fellow parents and teachers at his daughter’s private school. People still confuse him for the valet driver.

Does this make Lopez mad? Sure, but George Lopez being George Lopez, he can find the humor even in racism and classicism, and that’s the big selling point of the show. If those kinds of jokes make you uncomfortable, this isn’t the show for you.

It’s not all laughs, though. During our interview (which is available online) the actor told me that he thinks “Lopez” can add to America’s conversation about race. Whether you end up enjoying “Lopez” or not, people are already talking about it. Just google“George Lopez TV Land,” and you’ll end up with half a million search results. In a social and political climate in which #Black Lives Matters has taken off, why can’t#Brown Lives Matters take off, too? And why can’t “Lopez” be the show that unites Latinos and non-Latinos across the Twitter verse?

To watch my interview with George Lopez, see below.

LAFOURCADE Is Brave Enough to Bare Her Soul

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Originally published in the May 2016 issue of LatinTRENDS magazine

 

The New York Times described her as a “songwriter with a literary streak in her lyric sand a finely calibrated balance of vintage and new sounds in her music.” Natalia Lafourcade has been in the entertainment business since she was 14, but it is with her latest album that she has turned into a leading Latina singer-songwriter. The recording earned her 5 Latin Grammys in 2015 including Best Alternative Music Album, and sold 100,000 in her native Mexico alone.We had the chance to interview Lafourcade exclusively during her U.S. tour, and she talked to us about the freedom she found inside herself.

 

Your last album was a tribute to Agustín Lara. Tell us what makes “Hasta la raíz” different from your previous work.

This is the first album in which I gave myself an opportunity to look inward. I told myself:“That’s it—I’m not wearing any costumes or any masks.” I wanted to do something autobiographical, almost like my first album.The material came from a breakup, after which I went back to writing songs. It’s a vulnerable album, very real. I wasn’t trying to do anything, just connect with people’s hearts.I tried to find truth through my lyrics. I think that I have been able to include that energy in the album and that people will be able to perceive it.

 

Do you feel like you were wearing a mask in the past?

I have had weird moments in my career, and surely they won’t be the last ones. In life, you take risks and go through different periods. I had many uncertain moments and, after the Agustin Lara album, I wanted to make an album that spoke an everyday language, closer to people. For my first album, I was very confident but I didn’t know much about production, the arrangements, the sound…

 

You are quite active on social media. How do you think this has contributed to your growth as an artist?

Nowadays, it is very important to be really close to your fans. I think that, thanks to[social media] my career has been able to grow. In fact, there was a moment when my label didn’t know what to do with me ‒frankly, I didn’t either ‒ but my fans were there for me.

 

Tell us about your process while writing the album.

It took me 2 years. There are many songs that didn’t make the cut. The creative process, the structure…it’s all very artisanal. I am a bit slow at it—I take my time. Sometimes, I wake up in the morning and come up with a song, but it’s not always like that. I write in my phone and in my little notebook and, when the songs are finished, I move them to a binder.

 

Who were your most important musical influences in this album?

I listened to several composers like Agustin Lara, Caetano [Veloso] and David Byrne. I also listen to Violeta Parra and Mercedes Sosa, and a lot of pop like Joni Mitchell, Justin Timberlake and even Simon Diaz. I am not limited by genre.

 

You are currently on tour through several U.S. and Latin America’s cities. Tell us about your experience creating these concerts.

Our concerts are an opportunity to go on a musical journey… a musical experience. They contain very expressive songs that shake you emotionally. The concert has very introspective parts and also moments to dance.

 

What do you think about Latina singers at commercial platforms such as the Grammys?

In Latin America, there is a lot of talent with strong projects, like Julieta Venegas, Gaby Moreno, Camila Moreno and Javiera Mena. From what I see in the industry, there are many of them, even if they are not in the mainstream much. Right now, there are women exploding through social media, like Carla Morrison, who can sell out the National Auditorium.There is more room now for independent projects.

 

 

This Year Women Ruled the VMA’s, but the Guys were Good Too

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By having over 200 million records sold, eight studio albums to her name and 14 number one singles in just a little over a decade Rihanna became this year’s recipient of the Michael Jackson Vanguard Award at the Video Music Awards.

While she may not have beat out Michael Jackson in records sales (around 600 million), she did beat him out this year in the amount of number one hits she has (his is 13).

The Barbadian hitmaker opened the show to a slew of her biggest pop songs dancing in a bubble gum cutout outfit and killing it on the dance floor.  This was only the first of four medleys she had throughout the night.

Hyperactive comedy duo Key and Peele spent the show commentating on the presenters, winners and performers while trying to create meme-worthy catchphrases of the night’s most momentous occasions. Some of their jokes were spot on, the rest were simply flat and repetitive sexual innuendos.

The most anticipated act of the night was none other than Britney Spears. Nine years passed since her lackluster performance in 2007, in which she looked more like a deer in the headlights instead of a pop princess. On stage, she had a steamy musical number with rapper G-Eazy of her hit “Make Me,” which was a definite return to form for the singer-dancer. Later they both performed one of his hits, “Me, Myself and I” to a cheering crowd.

Presenter Alicia Keys highlighted that it was the anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech and later gave a stirring poem, in which she said “that all women and men are created equal,” before she announced the nominees for Best Male Video.

Calvin Harris won for “This is What You Came For,” which was co-written by his former beau, Taylor Swift, who he definitely did not thank.

Kanye West was Kanye West as he made non-sequiturs about his music idols, his love for his wife and his feud with Taylor Swift, in which he addressed his controversial music video “Famous.”

It was an expression of our now, our fame right now, us on the inside of the TV. The audacity to put Anna Wintour next to Donald Trump. I put Ray J in it, bro. This is fame bro. I see you Amber…my wife is a [gangsta], not a lot of people’s wives would let them say that.

West later referenced the high level of crime in his native Chicago, shouted out Chance the Rapper and finally introduced his “Flashdance” inspired video “Fade.”

Not to be outdone, Beyonce took the stage for almost 20 minutes as she did an angelic rendition of “Pray You Catch Me,” which she followed up with a racy “Hold Up” where she smashed the camera with a baseball bat and topped it all off with an Olympic-like synchronized “Formation” dance that is worthy of a gold medal. She was later presented the Video of the Year Award by four of the Final Five od the USA women’s gymnastic team.

Jimmy Fallon shocked the audience by dressing up as Ryan Lochte and wisecracking about how he wrote “Sorry,” instead of Justin Bieber, which left the swimmer’s rival, Michael Phelps, in stitches.

Rihanna rounded out the night with medleys of her soul, dancehall and R&B songs showcasing some of her best vocals. Her performances were raw, powerful, sexy, emotional, and definitely unapologetic. In other words, truly her.

The sweetest moment of the night, however, was when Drake in a sharp tuxedo presented her the Vanguard Award and reminisced about first meeting Robyn Rihanna Fenty in 2005 as an extra in her first music video as she beamed at his congratulatory speech.

We loved the woman who hasn’t changed since day one. She’s someone I loved since I was 22-years-old.”

Rihanna would go on to remark on how her award was so much bigger than herself.

My success started as my dream. But now my success is not my own. It’s my family’s. It’s my fans. It’s my country’s. It’s the Caribbean as a whole. It’s women. It’s black women.

When she finished her speech she walked off the stage with Drake hand in hand. It was truly a remarkable night for women indeed.

Aarón Sánchez : No Longer in his Mother’s Shadow

Photo by Naeisha Rose

Photos by Naeisha Rose

Chef Aarón Sánchez, of “Iron Chef” fame, may be one of the most celebrated Mexican-American culinary experts around the world, but it wasn’t until about a year ago that he decided to make dishes celebrating his Mexican roots.

Like many cooks, the Iron Chef’s love for cooking came from his family.

“My story is not so strange from many Latin families,” says Sánchez. “I grew up in a household where food is central. That is the way we commune,” says Sánchez.

Guests anticipating third course.

Guests anticipating the third course.

As a child, Sánchez’s family lived off the land and spent time taking care of animals on the isolated parts of Chihuahua, Mexico, and cooking became the pastime for his family.

“I had three aunts and they rode horses every day and they took care of cattle and my grandmother would cook. That is where the love of cooking was born, with my mom and my aunts,” says the television personality.

For the budding food connoisseur, home life in Chihuahua didn’t always remain idyllic, but things did change for the better.

As I grew up we moved from Mexico to Texas and I really started to grasp how important food was for us as a family. My mom became a caterer and social worker, divorced my daddy when I was three and took me and my twin brother in the catering van to El Paso. With just an opportunity and a job, she ended up becoming the most recognized Mexican chef in the country, all through hard work and recreating the food she grew up eating as a child.”

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Despite being inspired by his mom, Zarela Martinez, as she transitioned from a caterer to a chef and then restaurateur of the famous Café Marimba in New York, Sánchez knew he had to fly the coup to seek out his own path in the food world.

As a young man, I felt the absolute need to separate myself from my mom’s shadow. That is why I started to embrace other Latin foods like Peruvian, South American, and Caribbean dishes. That became a lot of my focus so I could establish my own identity culinarily. I remember that being an early motivation early on in my career, and that is why I worked in the kitchen at Patria with Douglas Rodriguez right here in New York. It was the first Latin restaurant to ever get three stars and I was a part of that.”

After traveling throughout the United States and abroad Sánchez felt that he was finally ready to make food from his home country of Mexico.

“I guess when I moved to New Orleans a year ago…and studied enough, I felt it suffice for me to tackle Mexican food as a genre. I didn’t want to tackle that food unless I was prepared, and now that I’m in my 40s I felt like it was time,” says Sánchez.

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As a chef, trying out new and different ingredients to put a spin on an old recipe have been one of Sánchez’s favorite things to do, and that is why his collaboration with Grapes from California, a community of grape growers, remains a fruitful one.

This is the second year that Grapes from California worked with chef Aarón. It is always our mission that we find chefs that not only have a passion for cooking but a passion for grapes. It’s very evident whenever we work with chef Aarón, that it is more than just a dish that he is creating, he is creating a meal,” says Jeff Klitz, a representative with the California Table Grape Commission.

Jeff Klitz, California Table Grape Commission

Jeff Klitz, California Table Grape Commission

It is not only Sánchez’s mission to make great meals but to use food picked according to proper labor laws.

“As parents, we always struggle to find fresh food in the cold months…Grapes from California are actually available from May to January,” says Sánchez. “I’ve seen how these grapes are grown and the practices behind how they are harvested, which is important to me, so they are just doing it the right way, you know,” he adds.

In Soho, Chef Sánchez made scallop ceviche with red grapes, Yucatan-styled red snapper with green grapes and grilled quail with black grapes for guests.

Ceviche and Red Snapper

 

“He is finding nuances with every ingredient. It is a great pairing because Grapes from California are very versatile and you can use them as snacks, in salads, in meals, but he finds ways that we haven’t even thought of because he is chef Aarón,” says Klitz.

When asked which meal was his favorite, Klitz responded, “that’s like what do you like better, winning the lottery or having immortality.”

To get the recipes to Chef Sánchez’s three meals you can go to www.grapesfromcalifornia.com.

Struggling with Mental Illness and Learning to Overcome it

Originally published in the May 2016 issue of LatinTRENDS magazine

By Alfredo Madrid

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The various manners in which mental illnesses can develop and affect individuals are almost as diverse as the types of disorders that exist. Some are more serious than others. One particular individual, Aaron Harvey, partner at a successful digital marketing agency, broke his silence regarding a 20-year battle with an extreme form of obsessive compulsive disorder known as Pure O.

 

After realizing that there is a general lack of information available to the public on the disorder, he launched a website to humanize the experience of living with OCD named, Intrusive Thoughts.org. With videos and input from experts on meditation, diet, art and medicine, the site—which offers all of its content in Spanish as well—helps put sufferers on the path to treatment.

“It’s been life-threatening at times and humorous at other times,” said Harvey when describing his experience with OCD. “I’ve battled with it since I was a kid. I was even suicidal at times. It shaped my character. Twenty years I have battled with it. But the last few years have been very empowering.”

Such realizations and feelings of hopelessness led Harvey to want to create a site in which he could address others dealing with not just OCD, but mental disorders in general. He also touched upon why he feel sit is important to directly target the Latino population in this country.

“I wanted to humanize the symptoms,”said Harvey. “Instead of researching the side effects, I wanted to lead people to an understanding of what other people might be going through. Today’s audience is multicultural. It would be a missed opportunity to not offer it in Spanish. There is a mental health stigma in the U.S., and overseas there is even more stigma. People write to me from as far as Italy and Russia. I hope to reach Latin America as well.”

Harvey offers interesting advice for those afflicted with mental disorders. “My advice is to get as educated as you can about what you’re feeling,” said Harvey. “My stance is to practice mindfulness and meditation. It’s the idea that you witness your thoughts, but they don’t mean anything. Practice Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) which forces you to expose yourself to what you’re afraid of.

At times throughout his life long struggle, Harvey questioned whether he could have healthy, long-standing relationships or even be around children without having negative thoughts of harming them. But Harvey remains optimistic, and his position could be inspiring to those still battling mental disorders on their own.

Just talk about it,” said Harvey. “Don’t live in secrecy. Get as educated as you can. Empower yourself.

 

THOSE LIVING WITH OCD

  • Approximately 2.3% of the population between ages 18 – 54 suffers from OCD, which out-ranks mental disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and panic disorder.
  • 1 in 200 adults has OCD, and 1 in 100 has had OCD at one point or another in their life.
  • OCD is found in all ethnic groups,and both men and women are equally struck by the disorder.
  • Between 1/3 to ½ of all sufferers will find that their OCD has its roots in childhood.
  • Less than 10% of those suffering are currently in treatment.

 

INTRUSIVE THOUGHTS

  • 4 out of 5 people experience intrusive thoughts.
  • Up to 60% of sufferers of OCD will have no overt compulsions, known as “Pure O.”
  • Approximately 78% of all people suffering from with OCD have intrusive images.