“When I first made coconut rice on the Food Network, I got hate mail,” Ingrid Hoffmann declared. “I'm dead serious. People said that my food was not Latin, because people in the US assumed that Latin food meant Mexican food. People didn’t realize that there are 22 Latin countries with a broad span of flavors," flavors including coconut rice, a staple of Barranquilla, Colombia, where Hoffmann grew up. Thanks to cooks like Hoffmann, however, misconceptions about Latin cuisine are fading and authenticity is on the rise. Hoffmann will be doing her part to educate the masses as she heads to the South Beach Wine and Food Festival.
Hoffmann’s table growing up in Colombia and Curacao included a variety of ingredients, as well as an international influence. “My mom is a Cordon Bleu trained chef,” Hoffman said. “I was blessed with that because, really, I learned to cook as a very young girl and I was exposed to world food since I was very, very little. She was into Indonesian food, Chinese food, French food, many different cuisines. It was a gift to grow up with that.”
Add a German grandfather, a Bolivian/Peruvian grandfather, and a Colombian/Basque grandmother who was raised in Argentina, and the Hoffmann kitchen became a UN of flavors. “So I grew up eating an egg arepa next to a ceviche Peruano next to a chimichurri with a sauerbraten, and then some new concoction from Cordon Bleu," she said. "I just always thought that people ate that way.”
Hoffmann’s multicultural upbringing made her feel comfortable in the melting pot of Miami, where she resides and eagerly anticipates the South Beach Wine and Food Festival each year. “Over the years, I've done almost every event in it, it's been a lot of fun to see it grow,” she said. “The festival has exposed the locals to all of these international chefs and international wine and champagne. The whole community created a lot of awareness and education, along with opening up palates and opening up industries.”
She also said she's a huge fan of founder Lee Schrager. “I've seen him start this from nothing, and he also does a lot for all of us chefs, locally. He really supports us back, just like we support him.” Hoffman is especially appreciative of the scholarships the festival gives through the culinary program at Florida International University. “Through that, they create a whole new legion of culinary experts,” Hoffman said. “It's great for our industry.”
Next, what's up next for Hoffmann...