New York Chefs, Including Porchetta’s Sara Jenkins, Take Part in Havana Biennial

Porchetta's tasty porchetta sandwich. (Courtesy Porchetta)

The chef Sara Jenkins, who runs the Porchetta pork sanctuary in the East Village, has long been recognized as one of the city’s finest emerging restauranteurs. Now she is also an official participant in an international art biennial.

The Associated Press reports that Ms. Jenkins, who also runs the Porsena restaurant in the neighborhood, is taking part in the 11th Havana Biennial as part of a project called “Project Paladar” conceived by New York artist, architect and designer Craig Shillitto.

For “Project Paladar” (named after the independent restaurants that were allowed to open there in the 1990s), Ms. Jenkins is working with a Cuban counterpart (there’s a thriving restaurant scene in Havana) to prepare meals for a few dozen lucky people each night. (“Call it kitchen diplomacy,” says the AP.) Nine other New York chefs, including Anita Lo, of the West Village’s Annisa, are also taking part with Havana-based chefs.

The wire service sets the scene in the country, where speciality foods are often scarce:

Jenkins brought down her own cooking knives, as well as ingredients that would seem exotic not just in Cuba but in many American kitchens: kaffir lime leaf, Szechuan peppercorns, a quarter-wheel of Grana Padano cheese (it’s like Parmesan, only made in a different part of Italy).

Anita Lo, executive chef and owner of Annisa, a Michelin-starred restaurant in the West Village, stuffed her suitcase with white soy and yuzu juice for her cooking partner, one of the few Cuban chefs making sushi.

The biennial opened on Friday. Back in New York, Porchetta is open seven days a week, until 10 or 11 p.m. depending on the day. Sandwiches are $10, plates $14.

New York Chefs, Including Porchetta’s Sara Jenkins, Take Part in Havana Biennial