VISTA Coordinator Monica Tambay shows off her cooking skills at GDC Bite Night

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all photos Corey Rae Rodda/Catalyst

I waddled out of “¡Buen Provecho!: GDC Cuban-American Cuisine Bite Night” after savoring a meal that tasted of heritage and roots.

Vista Coordinator Monica Tambay and alum James Sheridan served up batido de mango (a mango milkshake), moros y cristianos (black beans and rice), tostones (fried green plantains), vegan cuban bean soup and yucca con mojo (yucca and onion with garlic sauce).

The batido de mango made me sink into the Z-kitchen couch cushions. The condensed milk and vanilla extract in it lent the shake richness. Drinking it made me reminiscent of nostalgic childhood weekends — images of hula hoops, hopscotch and porch swings flashed through my mind as a sip of the mango shake lingered on my tongue.

My favorite entrée was the moros y cristianos — a beans and rice dish that had a depth of flavor from garlic, olive oil, tomato paste, vegetable stock and white vinegar. I enjoyed the vegan bean soup as well — it tasted light and had a thick consistency. I imagine it being served at a health spa.

Monica Tambay cooked all of the food, except for the soup, which James Sheridan concocted for the event. Tambay has her own cooking show on “Krazy Good Food Network” (, which is popular in Europe.

Tambay grew up in the kitchen. “I started getting into the kitchen when I was two or three,” Tambay said. “There is a picture of me when I was two making a cake. Because my family is very multicultural — my dad is from India and my mom is from Cuba — they love cooking. When I was six or seven, I remember chopping onions and peeling garlic and loving all the smells. I got into [cooking] really quickly and really early because it [food] was such a huge part of my life.”

When the Catalyst asked her what the food that she cooked for ¡Buen Provecho! meant to her, Tambay replied, “This food — that’s a really deep question. This food — it means family. It means years and years of heritage and love and I guess memories because I learned how to make this food when I was really young. I basically honor my family through this food when I make it. It reminds me of my grandmother and all of her special cooking methods, how much of herself she put into it and all of the stories she used to tell when she made this.”

“I could definitely see myself in the future doing some sort of food related job,” Tambay reflected. “My current career path is in fashion — I’m going to design school in August. But, I think later, I could see myself doing some career path with food.”

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