World Chefs: Garcia adds Latin flair to comfort food

Tue Jan 10, 2012 3:22pm EST
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Chef Lorena Garcia is showing home cooks how to add the flair and versatility of modern Latin cuisine to comfort food.

In her first cookbook, "New Latin Classics," Miami-based Garcia provides recipes for all occasions, both indoors and out.

Garcia had a busy year in 2011. She opened a restaurant and appeared as a judge on the U.S. television show, "America's Next Great Restaurant."

The 42-year-old Venezuelan native spoke to Reuters about her passion for cooking and her decision not to become a lawyer.

Q: What is your goal with your first cookbook?

A: "It's really about my culture. That's what it boils down to, how to represent Latin cuisine in the food that we all know. I am an American. I have been here for 20 years. We have such a melting pot of influences when it comes to Latin cuisine. I take Latin cuisine and apply it to the food that we are all comfortable with, very comfy, in recipes people could enjoy with their family."

Q: Why are the recipes grouped by occasions, not courses?

A: "If you see the book, the chapters that I write are based on the state of mind ... It's how I feel when I'm cooking. Am I relaxed? Am I at home? Is this the food I'm going to make? ...   Continued...

<p>Chef Lorena Garcia poses in Miami on December 11, 2010. REUTERS/Quentin Bacon/Handout</p>