I Can't Re­sist the Tem­pta­tion of Puf­fing on a Ha­bano

THIS YOUNG WO­MAN, THE ONLY CU­BAN CONTESTANT TO REACH THE GRAND FI­NA­LE OF THE TA­LENT SHOW MAS­TER CHEF ES­PA­ÑA — ONE OF THE MOST HIGH-PRO­FI­LE TA­LENT SHOWS IN THE WORLD — WILL DE­LIGHT PAR­TI­CI­PANTS OF THE 22st HA­BA­NOS FES­TI­VAL WITH HER TA­LENT AND CHARM

Habanos - - Summary - BY / LOUR­DES BE­NÍ­TEZ

Ketty Fres­ne­da was cu­rious about co­oking sin­ce she was a little girl. She wat­ched her grand­mot­her co­ok in the sto­ve with a ver­sa­ti­lity lear­ned by ex­pe­rien­ce and daily ur­gency. She was in­tri­gued by the way fla­vors com­bi­ned in the meal, trig­ge­ring that plea­sant tas­te in the pa­la­te as well as the who­le­so­me of her soul. Af­ter­wards, she stu­died me­di­ci­ne for four years at the Uni­ver­sity of Me­di­cal Scien­ces in Ha­va­na, but she fell in lo­ve and mo­ved to Spain. The­re, she pur­sued a ca­reer in Nu­tri­tion. Per­haps it was ho­me­sick­ness and the una­voi­da­ble fee­ling of mis­sing her roots which led her to ta­king re­fu­ge in the pre­pa­ra­tions of meals that might bring back me­mo­ries of her fa­mily, her ho­me, her ho­me­land…Step by step, her pas­sion for gas­tro­nomy grew big­ger and wound up cap­ti­va­ting her.

And so this young wo­man star­ted a quest that led her to be­co­ming the first Cu­ban wo­man to reach the grand fi­na­le of the 6th edition of the ta­lent show Mas­ter Chef Es­pa­ña. It seems pretty easy when you put it that way, but that's a far cry from the truth. She had to do bet­ter than 23,000 can­di­da­tes and pa­ved her way every week with strong will­po­wer, ef­fort, and hum­ble­ness. In this li­ne, she had to pro­ve her skills in the fi­na­le be­fo­re the eyes of top­notch jud­ges, al­ways cham­pio­ning her iden­tity.

Ketty Fres­ne­da, who re­gards her­self as a hun­dred per­cent Cu­ban wo­man, with a Ga­li­cian ac­cent though, arri­ves in her ho­me­land — she was he­re last Sep­tem­ber at­ten­ding the 9th Ex­ce­len­cias Gour­met In­ter­na­tio­nal Gas­tro­no­mic Se­mi­nar this year whe­re she re­con­nec­ted again with her cul­tu­re and dis­pla­yed her skills—, to sha­re fla­vors and charm at an unu­sual ve­nue this ti­me: the 22nd Ha­bano Fes­ti­val, an ex­ce­llent op­por­tu­nity to pro­ve that gas­tro­nomy al­so ser­ves to uni­te, bring to­get­her and sum­mon.

This young wo­man — she has a Mas­ter's De­gree in Sweet Cui­si­ne at the Bas­que Cu­li­nary Cen­ter, the first uni­ver­sity of gas­tro­no­mic scien­ces in Spain and one of the most pres­ti­gious centers in the world — said, as part of an ex­clu­si­ve in­ter­view gran­ted to Ex­ce­len­cias, that she wel­co­med the in­vi­ta­tion to at­tend an ex­clu­si­ve event li­ke the Ha­bano Fes­ti­val: “I be­lie­ve in the fu­tu­re of Cu­ban gas­tro­nomy. In this re­gard, pai­ring a Ha­bano with our rums is one of the most in­des­cri­ba­ble plea­su­res of life.”

And it could not be any bet­ter than that. For Ketty, ste­reoty­pes asi­de, Cu­ba tas­tes of rum and Ha­ba­nos; rum­ba and sal­sa; but al­so of cof­fee, ri­ce and beans, pork chops and a won­der­ful lo­cal mo­ji­to. The­se are so­me of the ele­ments she li­kes to sha­re with mi­llions of fo­llo­wers in her so­cial net­works at https://www.fa­ce­book.com/ketty. fres­ne­da.1, as well as her ac­ti­ve Ins­ta­gram pro­fi­le @kettym­chef6.

She points out she is very plea­sed to at­tend the Fes­ti­val. “Everyt­hing re­la­ted to the cul­tu­re of my na­tion will be al­ways a chan­ce for me to grow. It is funny. I am not pro­ne to smo­king ci­ga­ret­tes, but I can­not re­sist the tem­pta­tion to puff on a Ha­bano. I think events li­ke this are very va­lua­ble and I ho­pe to at­tend mo­re than on­ce. I lo­ve my Cu­ban roots, es­pe­cially when I am in my country smo­king Ha­ba­nos. I want to en­joy everyt­hing I can do and learn as much as I can.”

Out of the many at­trac­tions you may find in the Ha­ba­nos' uni­ver­se, Ketty is fas­ci­na­ted by “the smell, the his­tory trea­su­red in them. The fact that we are mas­ter crafts­men world­wi­de and we can say that out loud. We ha­ve the world's best to­bac­co and I am very plea­sed to boast about it. Whe­ne­ver I can em­bra­ce my land and its cul­tu­re, I will be he­re as long as my sche­du­le per­mits.”

At pre­sent, the thoughts and plans of this young chef are ai­med at fin­ding a pla­ce, as she lo­ves to say, “to start a small bu­si­ness,” whe­re she may pay tri­bu­te to Cu­ba and its tra­di­tion. She is al­so re­su­ming her ma­jor: nu­tri­tion. As for fu­tu­re pro­jects, she says she is not too con­cer­ned about the fu­tu­re, or at least she is trying not to. “You ha­ve your own desires every day. Hen­ce, I work hard and I ma­ke a plan for my­self ac­cor­ding to what I ha­ve at hand.”

At the end of the in­ter­view, we rai­sed the ques­tion about the link bet­ween gas­tro­nomy and the uni­ver­se of Ha­ba­nos. We as­ked her about how both fields meet and what ma­ke both so spe­cial. The ans­wer is clear for Ketty Fres­ne­da: “To­day, gas­tro­nomy is much mo­re than just ea­ting. It is a set of prac­ti­ces lin­ked to he­do­nism, which ho­ver around se­ve­ral pro­ducts. Tas­ting so­me good meat, pai­red with an ex­ce­llent wi­ne, with back­ground mu­sic and a fi­nal af­ter-din­ner con­ver­sa­tion with the pos­si­bi­lity to en­joy rums and Ha­ba­nos, I be­lie­ve it is the ul­ti­ma­te ex­pe­rien­ce, a chan­ce to reach who­le­so­me­ness. In my opi­nion, the crea­tion of a com­mon th­read about what Ha­ba­nos and our rums bring to our mind, should be a ne­ces­sary con­cept in the emer­ging gas­tro­no­mic cul­tu­re.

PHO­TOS / JOR­GE COROMINA / EX­CE­LEN­CIAS ARCHIVE

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