Local chef leads travelers on culinary tour of Cuba

This May 16, 2015 photo shows the exterior of El Floridita, a bar and restaurant frequented by Ernest Hemingway that's a popular stop for tourists in Old Havana, Cuba. The local great air-conditioning, icy daiquiris and a bust of Hemingway, perfect for selfies. (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz)
This May 16, 2015 photo shows the exterior of El Floridita, a bar and restaurant frequented by Ernest Hemingway that’s a popular stop for tourists in Old Havana, Cuba. The local great air-conditioning, icy daiquiris and a bust of Hemingway, perfect for selfies. (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz) (AP/Beth J. Harpaz)
In this photo taken Friday, April 29, 2011, chef Diomer Matos prepares "Esclava de Langosta," a lobster dish, at La Moneda Cubana, a private restaurant, in Old Havana, Cuba. A restaurant boom is sweeping Havana under new rules that make it easier to run "paladars," with a wave of new private eateries opening since January 2011. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)
In this photo taken Friday, April 29, 2011, chef Diomer Matos prepares “Esclava de Langosta,” a lobster dish, at La Moneda Cubana, a private restaurant, in Old Havana, Cuba. A restaurant boom is sweeping Havana under new rules that make it easier to run “paladars,” with a wave of new private eateries opening since January 2011. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/Franklin Reyes)
In this photo taken Friday, April 29, 2011, chef Josue Ferrer prepares a dish at La Moneda Cubana, a private restaurant, in Old Havana, Cuba. A restaurant boom is sweeping Havana under new rules that make it easier to run "paladars," with a wave of new private eateries opening since January 2011. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)
In this photo taken Friday, April 29, 2011, chef Josue Ferrer prepares a dish at La Moneda Cubana, a private restaurant, in Old Havana, Cuba. A restaurant boom is sweeping Havana under new rules that make it easier to run “paladars,” with a wave of new private eateries opening since January 2011. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/Franklin Reyes)
A worker gets ready to attend customers in La Guarida, Havana's best known paladar, or private restaurant, in Havana, Monday, March 10, 2008.  (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
A worker gets ready to attend customers in La Guarida, Havana’s best known paladar, or private restaurant, in Havana, Monday, March 10, 2008. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano) (AP/Javier Galeano)
A wall at La Guarida, Havana's best known paladar, or private restaurant, is decorated with Cuban memorabilia in Havana, Monday, March 10, 2008. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
A wall at La Guarida, Havana’s best known paladar, or private restaurant, is decorated with Cuban memorabilia in Havana, Monday, March 10, 2008. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano) (AP/Javier Galeano)
**FOR USE WITH AP LIFESTYLES**   Coconut Flan  is seen in this Tuesday, April 1, 2008 photo. Coconut Flan is a popular dessert at La Guarida paladar, a private restaurant in Havana, Cuba.   (AP Photo/Larry Crowe)
Coconut Flan is seen in this Tuesday, April 1, 2008 photo. Coconut Flan is a popular dessert at La Guarida paladar, a private restaurant in Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Larry Crowe) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/LARRY CROWE)
In this photo taken Friday, April 29, 2011, Marcial Radillo prepares a cocktail at La Moneda Cubana, a private restaurant in Old Havana, Cuba. A restaurant boom is sweeping Havana under new rules that make it easier to run "paladars," with a wave of new private eateries opening since January 2011. With the restaurant owner trying to capture some of the history of the area, the costume is mid-18th Century British - from the time when the sailors arrived on the island, in the same part of the city where the restaurant is located. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)
Marcial Radillo prepares a cocktail at La Moneda Cubana, a private restaurant in Old Havana, Cuba. A restaurant boom is sweeping Havana under new rules that make it easier to run “paladars,” with a wave of new private eateries opening since January 2011. With the restaurant owner trying to capture some of the history of the area, the costume is mid-18th Century British — from the time when the sailors arrived on the island, in the same part of the city where the restaurant is located. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/Franklin Reyes)
A worker hangs decorative flags outside the famous restaurant-bar "La Bodeguita del Medio" in Old Havana, Cuba, Thursday, April 26, 2012. The restaurant celebrates its 70th anniversary on Thursday. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)
A worker hangs decorative flags outside the famous restaurant-bar “La Bodeguita del Medio” in Old Havana, Cuba, Thursday, April 26, 2012. The restaurant celebrates its 70th anniversary on Thursday. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes) (AP/Franklin Reyes)
Tourists eat at the paladar O'Reilly 304 in Old Havana, Cuba, Monday, June 1, 2015. When eating in Havana, stick to "paladares" - privately owned restaurants. You'll need reservations for the best. Prices are moderate but not cheap. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)
Tourists eat at the paladar O’Reilly 304 in Old Havana, Cuba, Monday, June 1, 2015. When eating in Havana, stick to “paladares” — privately owned restaurants. You’ll need reservations for the best. Prices are moderate but not cheap. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan) (AP/Desmond Boylan)
In this Oct 18, 2013 photo, a professional cook holds up a 3D gelatin flower desert during a meeting of Cuban chefs in Havana, Cuba. In the past two years, thanks to the economic reform initiated by the government, thousands of "paladares," the name given to privately-owned restaurants, have populated the island: from very elegant spaces installed in old restored mansions decorated with works of art, to modest roadside cafes. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
A professional cook holds up a 3D gelatin flower dessert during a meeting of Cuban chefs in Havana, Cuba. In the past two years, thanks to the economic reform initiated by the government, thousands of “paladares,” the name given to privately-owned restaurants, have populated the island: from very elegant spaces installed in old restored mansions decorated with works of art, to modest roadside cafes. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa) (AP/Ramon Espinosa)
In this Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011 photo, workers prepare food at the privately-run restaurant "El Parthenon," owned by Javier Acosta who operates it from his home in Havana, Cuba. "This has been a hard year, a year of sacrifice," Acosta said. "There are days when nobody comes, or when I have just one or two tables, and then there are days when the place is filled." Acosta said his costs run to about $1,000 a month, and when business is slow he struggles to break even. Yet the reforms, he says, have changed the face of Cuba, and cynical countrymen who doubt the opening will be lasting must wake up to a new reality. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
Workers prepare food at the privately-run restaurant “El Parthenon,” owned by Javier Acosta who operates it from his home in Havana, Cuba. “This has been a hard year, a year of sacrifice,” Acosta said. “There are days when nobody comes, or when I have just one or two tables, and then there are days when the place is filled.” Acosta said his costs run to about $1,000 a month, and when business is slow he struggles to break even. Yet the reforms, he says, have changed the face of Cuba, and cynical countrymen who doubt the opening will be lasting must wake up to a new reality. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/Javier Galeano)
In this Dec. 7, 2012 photo, U.S. chef Steve Sullivan holds plates of bread as fellow chef Charlie Hallowell, right, looks toward the dining room of the privately-run restaurant Le Chansonnier in Havana, Cuba. Sullivan and Hallowell visited Cuba as part of the "Planting Seeds" delegation that held give-and-take seminars with chefs and culinary students about slow food. They also put on two dinners including a rabbit-based meal at the privately run Le Chansonnier. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
U.S. chef Steve Sullivan holds plates of bread as fellow chef Charlie Hallowell, right, looks toward the dining room of the privately-run restaurant Le Chansonnier in Havana, Cuba. Sullivan and Hallowell visited Cuba as part of the “Planting Seeds” delegation that held give-and-take seminars with chefs and culinary students about slow food. They also put on two dinners including a rabbit-based meal at the privately run Le Chansonnier. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa) (AP/Ramon Espinosa)
A bartender pours a drink at the famous restaurant-bar "La Bodeguita del Medio" in Old Havana, Cuba, Thursday, April 26, 2012. The restaurant celebrates its 70th anniversary on Thursday. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)
A bartender pours a drink at the famous restaurant-bar “La Bodeguita del Medio” in Old Havana, Cuba, Thursday, April 26, 2012. The restaurant celebrates its 70th anniversary on Thursday. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes) (AP/Franklin Reyes)
An American tourist walks across the steps of a pool with a view of Havana Bay at Paladar Vistamar in the upscale Miramar section of Havana, Cuba, Thursday, April 19, 2012.  Palardares are privately-run restaurants, usually in private homes, where tourists can dine on higher quality food than the fare generally available in government-run restaurants.(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
An American tourist walks across the steps of a pool with a view of Havana Bay at Paladar Vistamar in the upscale Miramar section of Havana, Cuba, Thursday, April 19, 2012. Palardares are privately-run restaurants, usually in private homes, where tourists can dine on higher quality food than the fare generally available in government-run restaurants.(AP Photo/Kathy Willens) (AP/Kathy Willens)
A man sells snacks as Cuban workers take a coffee break at a snack bar in in Old Havana, Monday, June 11, 2007. One of the largest concentrations of venders selling street food for Cuban pesos can be found on Havana's bustling Obispo Street. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
A man sells snacks as Cuban workers take a coffee break at a snack bar in Old Havana, Monday, June 11, 2007. One of the largest concentrations of vendors selling street food for Cuban pesos can be found on Havana’s bustling Obispo Street. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/Javier Galeano)
Cuban workers take a coffee break at a snack bar on Obispo street in Old Havana, Monday, June 11, 2007. One of the largest concentrations of venders selling street food for Cuban pesos can be found on Havana's bustling Obispo Street. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
Cuban workers take a coffee break at a snack bar on Obispo Street in Old Havana, Monday, June 11, 2007. One of the largest concentrations of vendors selling street food for Cuban pesos can be found on Havana’s bustling Obispo Street. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano) (AP/Javier Galeano)
** FOR STORY SLUGGED CUBA PALADARES **   A Cuban chef cooks paella in La Guarida, Havana's best known paladar, or private restaurant in Havana, Monday, March 10, 2008. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
A Cuban chef cooks paella in La Guarida, Havana’s best known paladar, or private restaurant in Havana, Monday, March 10, 2008. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/Javier Galeano)
People play dominoes in the entrance of La Guarida, Havana's best known paladar, or private restaurant, in Havana, Monday, March 10, 2008. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
People play dominoes in the entrance of La Guarida, Havana’s best known paladar, or private restaurant, in Havana, Monday, March 10, 2008. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano) (AP/Javier Galeano)
** FOR STORY SLUGGED CUBA PALADARES **  A Cuban chef cooks at La Guarida, Havana's best known paladar, or private restaurant, in Havana, Monday, March 10, 2008.  (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
A Cuban chef cooks at La Guarida, Havana’s best known paladar, or private restaurant, in Havana, Monday, March 10, 2008. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano) (AP/Javier Galeano)
In this photo taken Friday, April 29, 2011, wait staff attend to customers at "La Moneda Cubana," a private restaurant in Old Havana, Cuba. A restaurant boom is sweeping Havana under new rules that make it easier to run "paladars," with a wave of new private eateries opening since January 2011. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)
In this photo taken Friday, April 29, 2011, wait staff attend to customers at La Moneda Cubana, a private restaurant in Old Havana, Cuba. A restaurant boom is sweeping Havana under new rules that make it easier to run “paladars,” with a wave of new private eateries opening since January 2011. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/Franklin Reyes)
In this Dec. 7, 2012 photo, U.S. chef Kelsie Kerr gives a taste to fellow chef Jerome Waag as she prepares dinner at the private restaurant Le Chansonnier in Havana, Cuba. Kerr and Waag visited Cuba as part of the "Planting Seeds" delegation that held give-and-take seminars with chefs and culinary students about slow food. They also put on two massive dinners including a rabbit-based meal at the privately run Le Chansonnier. Their advice to Cuban cooks who struggle with unreliable supply of even basic ingredients like eggs: Be flexible, and don't worry too much about maintaining a fixed menu. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
In this Dec. 7, 2012 photo, U.S. chef Kelsie Kerr gives a taste to fellow chef Jerome Waag as she prepares dinner at the private restaurant Le Chansonnier in Havana, Cuba. Kerr and Waag visited Cuba as part of the “Planting Seeds” delegation that held give-and-take seminars with chefs and culinary students about slow food. They also put on two massive dinners including a rabbit-based meal at the privately run Le Chansonnier. Their advice to Cuban cooks who struggle with unreliable supply of even basic ingredients like eggs: Be flexible, and don’t worry too much about maintaining a fixed menu. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa) (AP/Ramon Espinosa)
This May 14, 2015 photo shows Pedro Tejeda Torres, left, and Jonathan Nyamudihura, owner and chef at Cafe Ajiaco in Cojimar, just east of Havana, Cuba. The privately owned restaurant specializes in offering refined versions of traditional Cuban recipes. (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz)
This May 14, 2015 photo shows Pedro Tejeda Torres, left, and Jonathan Nyamudihura, owner and chef at Cafe Ajiaco in Cojimar, just east of Havana, Cuba. The privately owned restaurant specializes in offering refined versions of traditional Cuban recipes. (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz) (AP/Beth J. Harpaz)
Chef Lucio Alfonso Perez, of Cuba, left, slices avocado for a sushi roll as he works with Kenneth Oliveros, right, at a Sushi Maki restaurant, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, in Miami. Perez is one of four Cuban chefs visiting Miami for the week as part of the chef exchange program being hosted by the Cuba Study Group. The initiative is meant to encourage collaboration and development of new skills. Perez is the chef at Gringo Viejo, which serves traditional Cuban cuisine, and Cuban fusion, in Havana. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Chef Lucio Alfonso Perez, of Cuba, left, slices avocado for a sushi roll as he works with Kenneth Oliveros, right, at a Sushi Maki restaurant, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, in Miami. Perez is one of four Cuban chefs visiting Miami for the week as part of the chef exchange program being hosted by the Cuba Study Group. The initiative is meant to encourage collaboration and development of new skills. Perez is the chef at Gringo Viejo, which serves traditional Cuban cuisine, and Cuban fusion, in Havana. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) (AP/Lynne Sladky)
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This May 16, 2015 photo shows the exterior of El Floridita, a bar and restaurant frequented by Ernest Hemingway that's a popular stop for tourists in Old Havana, Cuba. The local great air-conditioning, icy daiquiris and a bust of Hemingway, perfect for selfies. (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz)
In this photo taken Friday, April 29, 2011, chef Diomer Matos prepares "Esclava de Langosta," a lobster dish, at La Moneda Cubana, a private restaurant, in Old Havana, Cuba. A restaurant boom is sweeping Havana under new rules that make it easier to run "paladars," with a wave of new private eateries opening since January 2011. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)
In this photo taken Friday, April 29, 2011, chef Josue Ferrer prepares a dish at La Moneda Cubana, a private restaurant, in Old Havana, Cuba. A restaurant boom is sweeping Havana under new rules that make it easier to run "paladars," with a wave of new private eateries opening since January 2011. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)
A worker gets ready to attend customers in La Guarida, Havana's best known paladar, or private restaurant, in Havana, Monday, March 10, 2008.  (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
A wall at La Guarida, Havana's best known paladar, or private restaurant, is decorated with Cuban memorabilia in Havana, Monday, March 10, 2008. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
**FOR USE WITH AP LIFESTYLES**   Coconut Flan  is seen in this Tuesday, April 1, 2008 photo. Coconut Flan is a popular dessert at La Guarida paladar, a private restaurant in Havana, Cuba.   (AP Photo/Larry Crowe)
In this photo taken Friday, April 29, 2011, Marcial Radillo prepares a cocktail at La Moneda Cubana, a private restaurant in Old Havana, Cuba. A restaurant boom is sweeping Havana under new rules that make it easier to run "paladars," with a wave of new private eateries opening since January 2011. With the restaurant owner trying to capture some of the history of the area, the costume is mid-18th Century British - from the time when the sailors arrived on the island, in the same part of the city where the restaurant is located. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)
A worker hangs decorative flags outside the famous restaurant-bar "La Bodeguita del Medio" in Old Havana, Cuba, Thursday, April 26, 2012. The restaurant celebrates its 70th anniversary on Thursday. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)
Tourists eat at the paladar O'Reilly 304 in Old Havana, Cuba, Monday, June 1, 2015. When eating in Havana, stick to "paladares" - privately owned restaurants. You'll need reservations for the best. Prices are moderate but not cheap. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)
In this Oct 18, 2013 photo, a professional cook holds up a 3D gelatin flower desert during a meeting of Cuban chefs in Havana, Cuba. In the past two years, thanks to the economic reform initiated by the government, thousands of "paladares," the name given to privately-owned restaurants, have populated the island: from very elegant spaces installed in old restored mansions decorated with works of art, to modest roadside cafes. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
In this Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011 photo, workers prepare food at the privately-run restaurant "El Parthenon," owned by Javier Acosta who operates it from his home in Havana, Cuba. "This has been a hard year, a year of sacrifice," Acosta said. "There are days when nobody comes, or when I have just one or two tables, and then there are days when the place is filled." Acosta said his costs run to about $1,000 a month, and when business is slow he struggles to break even. Yet the reforms, he says, have changed the face of Cuba, and cynical countrymen who doubt the opening will be lasting must wake up to a new reality. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
In this Dec. 7, 2012 photo, U.S. chef Steve Sullivan holds plates of bread as fellow chef Charlie Hallowell, right, looks toward the dining room of the privately-run restaurant Le Chansonnier in Havana, Cuba. Sullivan and Hallowell visited Cuba as part of the "Planting Seeds" delegation that held give-and-take seminars with chefs and culinary students about slow food. They also put on two dinners including a rabbit-based meal at the privately run Le Chansonnier. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
A bartender pours a drink at the famous restaurant-bar "La Bodeguita del Medio" in Old Havana, Cuba, Thursday, April 26, 2012. The restaurant celebrates its 70th anniversary on Thursday. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)
An American tourist walks across the steps of a pool with a view of Havana Bay at Paladar Vistamar in the upscale Miramar section of Havana, Cuba, Thursday, April 19, 2012.  Palardares are privately-run restaurants, usually in private homes, where tourists can dine on higher quality food than the fare generally available in government-run restaurants.(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
A man sells snacks as Cuban workers take a coffee break at a snack bar in in Old Havana, Monday, June 11, 2007. One of the largest concentrations of venders selling street food for Cuban pesos can be found on Havana's bustling Obispo Street. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
Cuban workers take a coffee break at a snack bar on Obispo street in Old Havana, Monday, June 11, 2007. One of the largest concentrations of venders selling street food for Cuban pesos can be found on Havana's bustling Obispo Street. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
** FOR STORY SLUGGED CUBA PALADARES **   A Cuban chef cooks paella in La Guarida, Havana's best known paladar, or private restaurant in Havana, Monday, March 10, 2008. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
People play dominoes in the entrance of La Guarida, Havana's best known paladar, or private restaurant, in Havana, Monday, March 10, 2008. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
** FOR STORY SLUGGED CUBA PALADARES **  A Cuban chef cooks at La Guarida, Havana's best known paladar, or private restaurant, in Havana, Monday, March 10, 2008.  (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
In this photo taken Friday, April 29, 2011, wait staff attend to customers at "La Moneda Cubana," a private restaurant in Old Havana, Cuba. A restaurant boom is sweeping Havana under new rules that make it easier to run "paladars," with a wave of new private eateries opening since January 2011. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)
In this Dec. 7, 2012 photo, U.S. chef Kelsie Kerr gives a taste to fellow chef Jerome Waag as she prepares dinner at the private restaurant Le Chansonnier in Havana, Cuba. Kerr and Waag visited Cuba as part of the "Planting Seeds" delegation that held give-and-take seminars with chefs and culinary students about slow food. They also put on two massive dinners including a rabbit-based meal at the privately run Le Chansonnier. Their advice to Cuban cooks who struggle with unreliable supply of even basic ingredients like eggs: Be flexible, and don't worry too much about maintaining a fixed menu. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
This May 14, 2015 photo shows Pedro Tejeda Torres, left, and Jonathan Nyamudihura, owner and chef at Cafe Ajiaco in Cojimar, just east of Havana, Cuba. The privately owned restaurant specializes in offering refined versions of traditional Cuban recipes. (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz)
Chef Lucio Alfonso Perez, of Cuba, left, slices avocado for a sushi roll as he works with Kenneth Oliveros, right, at a Sushi Maki restaurant, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, in Miami. Perez is one of four Cuban chefs visiting Miami for the week as part of the chef exchange program being hosted by the Cuba Study Group. The initiative is meant to encourage collaboration and development of new skills. Perez is the chef at Gringo Viejo, which serves traditional Cuban cuisine, and Cuban fusion, in Havana. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

WASHINGTON — Can’t escape the fantasy of sipping a mojito in the bright sunshine along Havana’s Malecón strip, while biting into a crispy fried fish sandwich? A James Beard Award-winning chef might be able to help turn that dream into reality.

From Oct. 2-7, Cuba Libre’s Guillermo Pernot will guide Americans through Havana’s buzzing farmers markets and progressive urban farms. He’ll take tourists inside the private homes of the country’s best chefs and into the classrooms of a Cuban cooking school — all in an effort to expose Cuba’s historic and continually evolving culinary culture.

When most Americans think of Cuban food, Pernot says they likely envision plates piled high with ropa vieja, yucca, rice, beans and plantains. But that notion is dated.

“[That plate] is loaded with starches, and that doesn’t happen anymore,” Pernot says. “The plates are more delicate, and the delivery and the flavors are bold and direct.”

That’s not to say Cuban chefs have abandoned the country’s traditional spices, ingredients and recipes.

“They’re using the old ingredients — all of the native ingredients — but they’re transforming them,” Pernot says. “You can still find a plate of malanga or yucca mashed with garlic mojo, but maybe now it’s put in a mold with a little bit of micro cilantro or a little bit of pickled chili on top.”

Cuba is also embracing influences from other countries and cuisines. Asian flavors are big in Cuban cooking, and more chefs are cooking with soy and experimenting with the tataki method of preparation, Pernot says.

For the past 20 years, Cuba’s food scene resided mostly in the private homes of chefs. These small and intimate makeshift restaurants, called paladares, have been the standard for dining — both for tourists and residents. But currently, Cuba is seeing more restaurants opening outside the home.

“Now, you can actually hire a chef, hire a staff and open a business,” Pernot says about the recent restaurant boom.

Cuban food may be progressing, but a few signs of the country’s rocky past still show up on the carefully decorated plates. Pernot says there’s been a butter shortage in the country for some time, and on his last trip to Havana, there were no potatoes to be found.

“We have to remember: They’re still missing the equipment and some of the raw materials,” he says.

October’s trip will be Pernot’s second time leading American tourists on a culinary journey through Cuba (his first was in 2012). He says he’s looking forward to seeing the changes that have taken place in the country’s tourism industry since travel restrictions eased earlier this year. And he’s already planning a third trip for March 2016.

“I have a feeling that Havana’s going to become a very popular place, very very soon,” he says.

However, he predicts one thing will remain the same, trip after trip: Everyone will enjoy the rum, the coffee and the cigars.

Pernot says he also hopes to squeeze in a little bit of work on the trip — mostly just to gather inspiration and ideas to bring home to his restaurants.

“Every time I go I discover something new — a technique or a new vegetable I’ve never heard of … it’s always something,” he says.

You can find more information, including a dates, cost and itinerary details for the October trip on Cuba Libre’s website.  

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