A loving spoonful of Americas cuisine from Cucharamama


For Maricel E. Presilla winning prestigious James Beard prizes for her writing the best selling ‘Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America’ cookbook and being co-owner and chef at one of New Jersey, USA’s best loved restaurants Cucharamama (CU-CHAH-RAH-MAM-AH) is not enough. She is also one of the original founders of the International Chocolate Awards (ICA). Chocolate makers around the world compete through several vigorous rounds of local, regional and global judging panels with the hope of being recognised by the ICA palates as being the industry’s ‘world champions’.

The Lemon Grove, together with fellow food writer and chocolate expert Cat Black, caught up with Maricel during the final judging rounds of the 2016 ICA in London, and were keen to learn about her love of cooking, sharing and understanding food, and what diners at Cucharamama can expect.

Here at The Lemon Grove, we’re looking forward to visiting and tasting from a menu that New Jersey Monthly magazine says, offers “from a Colombian type filled with cracked corn and potato-and-peanut hash, with cheese and tomato sauce($10), to a spicy Peruvian style topped with braised duck ($14), to a Venezuelan with pork cracklings and crème fraîche ($9). Though renowned as a scholar, Presilla is a gifted creator, too. Her $24 Mejillones y Barriga, for example, is a ravishing stew of pork belly, mussels, potatoes and black olives in a dark beer sauce flavored with smoky, fruity aji panca peppers from Peru”.

Many thanks to Cat for asking the questions and Maricel for answering them!


Bruce McMichael

Food writing, discovering food stories, meeting producers, chefs and food enthusiasts are all part of desire to inspire, inform my readers and fellow food lovers. I am a freelance writer, journalist and published author focusing on the international world of food and drink, culture and travel. In 2019 I graduated from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy with a Masters in Food Culture, Communication and Marketing. I am now a visiting Professor at the university teaching Food & Drink Writing. Based in London I travel widely, particularly across western Europe. I have chaired many conferences and meetings, spoken at conferences and events and often appear on radio and TV talking most about food, the business of food and being an entrepreneur. In 2017 I won an episode of the ITV (the UK-based national television channel) cooking competition show, 'Gordon Ramsay's Culinary Genius'. I took my children on holiday to Sicily with the prize money. As an experienced farmers' market manager and operator of a small marmalade/ preserves company, I am very familiar with the issues surrounding local food, farming, enterprise and the environment.

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