Jorge Gonzalez Sanchez’s hands prepared meals for close to 60 years. Seated outside Orlando Latin Market, the 73-year-old recalled his culinary past.
His first job was at a restaurant in Artemisa, a municipality and city in Sanchez’s native Cuba. From a busy kitchen, he and his team made all kinds of dishes — everything.
“Typical Cuban food, Italian… a lot of people in Cuba love congri (Cuban rice and black beans), lechón asado (grilled pork), la yuca con mojo (yuca with marinade),” he said.
His mahogany face widened into a toothy smile.
“And their beer,” he said with a laugh.
Sanchez was 13 years old when he learned to cook. Out of all professions, he said this is what he liked the most.
“We had to live from something,” Sanchez said bluntly when asked what drew him to a career as a chef. “I had to pick a profession, or continue in the country…”
Now that he’s older, Sanchez’s hands don’t prepare as many meals as they used to. He does, however, help his wife in the kitchen sometimes — primarily with meat dishes.
“The kitchen is very beautiful,” Sanchez said.
One just needs to be able to understand it.
(LISTEN: Sanchez speaks in Spanish about his love of cooking in the below audio clip)