Master Restaurateur Jimmy Rodriguez has returned to NY with yet another culinary brand that already has true fans of traditional Puerto Rican food buzzing. As we told you a few months back, Don Coqui opened it's doors in New Rochelle and everyone I know that has been there says that you cannot get a better plate of comida criolla outside of Mami's house (because you know every Boricua knows that Mami does it best).
Now I will go on record saying that I have partied in Jimmy's Bronx Cafe (muchas muchas veces…) and have sampled food from all of the infamous places he has put his name on. That said, I already had high expectations, so when I received the invite for Media Day, I naturally jumped at the opportunity to taste it for myself.
Located at at 115 Cedar St, New Rochelle, Don Coqui commands a presence inside and out. The 12,000 sq. ft. restaurant features two interactive demonstration kitchens, a professional kitchen and a very trendy bar/lounge. As an Urban Jibaro, I could really appreciate the minimalist, urban yet very upscale feel of the decor. That mixed with smells of fresh sofrito and a very engaging staff makes you feel more like you are in Jimmy's NY Apartment at a dinner party instead of a restaurant despite the vast size of the dining room. On a side note, I really liked the fact that I made it to New Rochelle from Long Island in only 32 minutes which is considerably less than what it takes me to go to NYC.
Hosting the media event was no other than the voice of New York, Boricua Radio Personality Angie Martinez (Hot 97) who would eventually sit down with Jimmy and talk about the inspiration behind Don Coqui. We listened attentively to the Don Coqui story while sampling pernil wrapped in yucca, plantain-crusted red snapper, sangria and the very Boricua Coquito (coconut flavored eggnog) which is a staple this time of year. What really struck me about the conversation about the process of creating this masterpiece was that Jimmy incorporated 4 generations of family culinary heritage, his business sense and the social media talents of his new business partners, his two daughters who are paving the way towards a Rodriguez Culinary Legacy.
Now no matter how nice a restaurant looks, how great the staff is, the only thing that matters at the end of the day is what people are going to say about your food. The people responsable for delivering the "sabroso" part of your experience at Don Coqui is executive chef Stephanie and celebrity chef Elsie Ramos who after their cooking demonstrations recruited the audience to step into the kitchen so that we can help make their house bacalao (cod fish) salad. Now some of you already know that I worked in the restaurant business as a Sous Chef for quite some years, so your boy was not shy when it came down to get it going in la cocina…it was definitely an experience. The interactive nature of the presentation was meant to demonstrate their signature cooking classes.
"Our cooking classes allow you to experience the cuisines of the world and learn how to create the most sumptuous of dishes. Classes begin with an introduction from the Chef and an explanation of the foods and wines you will be working with that evening. Then get ready to roll up your sleeves, put on your apron, which we provide for you, and start cooking. Once the meal is prepared you sit down family style and enjoy the meal you have just prepared. Classes are held on week nights from 7pm – 10pm."
I want to thank Jimmy and his family for extending me the invite. I had a remarkable time.
Nos vemos alla en la proxima….
As I am,
About Sofrito For Your Soul
We promote the evolution of Latino culture in the United States. Our mission is to share the spirit of our heritage through art, fashion, music, dance, traditions and emerging trends.