Presilla joyful over Cookbook of Year honors


Miami homegirl Maricel Presilla — Cuban immigrant, MDCC/FIU grad and medieval-scholar-turned-restaurateur — has scored a culinary trifecta.

Honored with a James Beard Foundation best-chef award last year for her New Jersey restaurant, Presilla has come home the big winner from both of this spring’s major cookbook competitions. Her Gran Cocina Latina, an epic survey of Hispanic cooking in the Americas that was named best general cookbook last month by the International Association of Culinary Professionals, won Cookbook of the Year honors at the James Beard media-awards ceremony Friday night.

“Happiness does not fully describe the joy I felt,” said Presilla, who walked to the stage at New York’s Gotham Hall to shouts of “Bravo!” and “Epa!”

“I was accepting the award on behalf of millions of Latin American cooks, and that is a huge responsibility and honor.”

In her acceptance speech, Presilla likened the 912-page book to the monarch butterfly, symbol of the immigration-reform movement: “Like the monarch, my book breaks borders and creates bridges between people, but through the universal pleasures of cooking.”

Kathy Martin

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