Name: Deonisis Jose Haldeos
Roots: My mom is Cuban, My dad is Greek. Hence, El Cubano Y Griego
Occupation: Teaching Assistant for students with special needs
How did you get interested in cooking?:
My mother always cooked for us growing up. I use to complain and ask if we could eat “American food”
She would reply “you mean hot dogs and hamburgers?…no” So I guess my passion for cooking comes from watching my mom’s devotion to cooking for her family.
Why a focus on low-carb?:
Well, growing up with huge plates white rice or even better, arroz moro I developed a liking for the kinds of food that filled you up, and filled you out; if you know what I mean. I was always a chubby kid, and finally wanted to do something about it. I wanted to change my eating habits not only for physical appearance, but for an all around healthier lifestyle. Remember, “low carb” doesn’t mean cutting out foods from your diet; it simply means choosing the right foods for your diet. I always like to say “it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle.”
Cubano y Griego, that’s quite a mezcla. How do both of those roots influence you and your food?
It’s so hard not to proud to be both Cuban and Greek. I often make a joke that I am like a diner; the Greek owner and the Hispanic cook all wrapped up in one. Both styles of cuisine influence my cooking and create a unique style all to itself. I incorporate the “feel good” style of comida Hispana with the healthy ingredients found in Mediterranean cooking. Together they create food that will have you philosophizing like Plato, and singing like Celia Cruz!
OMG, your kitchen is so small. How are you able to shoot a show in there?
Yeah it’s small; I have what’s called a galley kitchen. It’s about 20 square feet; 2’x10’. But I think it’s a typical urban kitchen and that’s what makes my show unique because it’s real. No fancy studios, no special effects, no room to hide your mistakes; and trust me there are mistakes. Basically it comes down to two things: There is a French cooking term called “mis en place” which means everything in its place. Meaning I take advantage of all my space however small it is. I have pots and pans hanging from the ceiling and oils, vinegars, and spices on shelves close by, and fruit and vegetable baskets hanging within easy reach. Most importantly I prepare my work area by thinking through the entire meal and having all the ingredients and utensils at hand ready to go; “mis en place” everything in it’s place. And most important, my roommate and producer, Nathaniel Paluga makes everything come together like sugar and spice.
What’s your favorite dish to eat? To make?
This might sound weird but growing up I use to imagine that if I were on “death row” and had to choose my last meal it would definitely be my mom’s frijoles negros, pernil, and arroz blanco. Nowadays, I would simply substitute the white rice for brown basmati rice or even quinoa.
I love to cook just about anything, but am partial towards breakfast. I love eggs and feel they’re so versatile; you can cook them so many different ways and with various fillers. There’s nothing like a great big spread of eggs, turkey or Canadian bacon, and protein powder pancakes to start the day right!
And finally, what does cosmopolatino mean to you?
Cosmopalatino, that’s fresh! Well I would say it’s about taking the dishes, foods, and flavors of our parents and bringing a modern twist to them. It’s about keeping our customs and traditions while introducing and sharing them with all types of people. Ultimately it’s about bringing la cultura to new levels of sabor!
For more information on Cooking with El Cubano y Griego here .
Schedule, in Manhattan:
Wed 12.13 @ 6:30pm ch. 67 Time Warner/ 86 RCN
Sun 12.24 @ 10:30am ch56 Time Warner/ 84 RCN
Outside of Manhattan, stream the program on the playdates on www.mnn.org