Toronto’s love affair with multi-cultural cuisine may have a new answer to the North American sandwich. The story begins in Venezuela with Chef Luis Manuel Cordoba. Luis’ love for food began at an early age with traditional techniques and recipes being passed on through family. As we chat over coffee, I learn that Luis began a pastry restaurant with his brother that lasted for 7 years before he decided to leave Venezuela for Toronto, where he saw opportunity for his flavour and style.
Chef Luis Manuel Cordoba
Luis arrived in Toronto in late 2009 and soon after began working as head Chef at Queen Street’s Arepa Cafe where he uses “ingredients as fresh and colourful as the Venezuelan landscape.” I ask which dish is the most popular? “Arepa!” says Luis enthusiastically. The Venezuelan “sandwich” is a flatbread made from cornmeal that is grilled and filled with meat, shrimp or veggies. “My favourite is the Reina Pepiada, which means the curvy queen, it is made with roasted chicken, avocado, red onion and coriander” explains Luis. He tells me that the beauty of the Arepa is that it is gluten free and has a unique flavour from its sweet and salty flavour profile. Further, the Arepa is perfect for eating on the go since it’s not messy, it can even be eaten for breakfast when made with eggs.
You will be able to try Luis’ Arepas at CraveTO Day on Saturday August 17th at Honest Ed’s Alley. The name of Luis’ operation is “Mango Pinton“. To jump start your Arepa adventure visit Arepa Cafe 490 Queen Street West.