Maricel Presilla

Chef/Owner, Cucharamama; Weehawken, NJ

Maricel Presilla, PhD, is an award-winning author, culinary historian, chef and restaurateur and a widely recognized expert on Latin American cuisines, capsicums, cacao, and chocolate. She holds a doctorate in medieval Spanish history from New York University and has received formal training in cultural anthropology. Her work combines the high academic standards of a professionally trained historian with a cultural anthropologist’s focus on rigorous field work. In 2013, her magnum opus, Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America (W.W. Norton) was honored as Cookbook of the Year by the James Beard Foundation and Best General Cookbook by IACP. She was named the Beard Foundation’s Best Chef-Mid Atlantic region in 2012 for her work at Cucharamama, and was inducted into the prestigious Beard Foundation cadre of outstanding US food professionals’ Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America in 2015. She is the author of Peppers of the Americas: The Remarkable Capsicums that Forever Changed Flavor (Lorena Jones Books?Ten Speed Press), winner in the IACP Reference & Technical Category in 2018; the product of decades of hands-on gardening and research on the iconic staple plants of the Americas. Maricel is also the author of The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History of Cacao with Recipes (Ten Speed Press), in 2001 and 2009 editions, a seminal book that that has inspired countless chocolate lovers, makers, and farmers to look deeper into fine cacao from Latin America. It was the first book of its kind to visually present a thorough overview of cacao varieties and their individual flavor profiles from a first-hand perspective and within a serious historical framework. She continues to educate and energize fine cacao and chocolate around the world from her platform as founder and Americas Director of the International Chocolate Awards, the largest independent fine chocolate competition in the world, and the International Institute of Chocolate and Cacao Tasting which focuses on sensory analysis. (Weehawken, NJ) @MaricelPresilla