Nationally renowned chef, author and restaurateur Guillermo Pernot graciously shared some insight surrounding his personal career trajectory and his thoughts on Hispanic culture when it comes to the restaurant industry. Born in Argentina, Chef Guillermo Pernot, is the Chef-Partner of Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar.
He is responsible for “maintaining the quality, taste and authenticity of Cuba Libre’s cuisine” at the various restaurant locations. The Cuba Libre Restaurant Group is in the process of expanding its concept across America and beyond.
“I LOVE LEADING CUBA LIBRE’S EXPANSION AND ENHANCING THE RESTAURANT’S MENUS IN INNOVATIVE WAYS, AS CUBAN CUISINE CONTINUES TO DEVELOP, I AM ABLE TO USE MY EXPERIENCE AND CULINARY SKILLS TO MENTOR YOUNG CHEFS, MANAGE MULTIPLE OUTLETS AND FOSTER THE FUTURE GROWTH OF THE CUBA LIBRE RESTAURANT & RUM BAR CONCEPT.” – CHEF PERNOT
Over the years, Chef Pernot has received many awards, mentions and accolades from publications such as: Esquire, Gourmet, and Fodor’s including “America’s Ten Best New Chefs” by Food & Wine, “Ten Rising Stars” by Restaurant Hospitality and two James Beard Awards for Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic Region; and for Best Single Subject Cookbook: ¡Ceviche!: Seafood, Salads and Cocktails with a Latino Twist. His experience includes working as a lead in the kitchen at Gloria Estefan’s restaurant Allioli in South Beach, the launch of Vega Grill and the creation of an exciting culinary dining and cultural experience called Pop-Up Paladares – a series exchanges between Cuba Libre dining guests and top Havana chefs.
Tell us a little about how you got to this point in your career and what lessons you might have learned along the way.
Early on in my career, there were a lot of “firsts” for me that looking back on them now I feel they were critical to shaping me today. Early on in my career while working for a large company and needing to have my menus approved by many people taught me to accept constructive criticism and see the bigger picture of creating menus and catering to a more diverse crowd. Similarly, when I did have my own restaurant and total creative say, it allowed me to be more creative and accept the successes and failures as teaching moments. Today, I am much more accepting of the processes involving all levels of management and employees to make the entire dining experience special.
How has your own culture influenced your life and the work that you do?
I don’t know if I would be a Nuevo Latino Chef – creating foods from Miami to Argentina without having been raised in Argentina and without having married into a Cuban family that loves to cook. My Cuban mother in law and her children in conjunction with working at Cuba Libre had a massive role in my evolution and trajectory into Cuba then and now. Having traveled to Cuba over 10 times to do research for my latest book “Cuba Cooks” inspired me to be more thoughtful about my recipes and draw from the many new young talents and very old recipes that can be married to create my own interpretation of Comida Cubana.
How does the Hispanic restaurant workforce play a role in dining culture in South Florida and in the United States?
I have been fortunate to employ and work alongside many very talented cooks and chefs from many different backgrounds. That being said, I feel a special connection in speaking to my Hispanic cooks and chefs in that their pallets may be more familiar with the flavors I am creating. Having Hispanic employees in both front and back of the house, specifically for Latino inspired restaurants lends authenticity to the restaurants that otherwise would be lacking.
In your perspective do you believe that American dining would be possible without Hispanic hospitality and restaurant workers?
I believe that the Hispanic restaurant workers are essential to the restaurant industry and have first-hand experienced the pitfalls of losing these restaurant workers due to labor laws.
Currently, Pernot resides in Philadelphia with his wife who is of Cuban descent and their two children.
To learn more about Chef Pernot visit the Cuba Libre Restaurant website.
Sheena L.A. is a marketing professional and owner of a boutique content house, and co-founder of a video production company based in Florida.