Cuban Independence Day and TV Celeb David Guas Traces Cuban Roots

Viva Cuba!

Cuban-American Chef David Guas Shares a Taste of His Heritage and Celebrates
Cuban Independence DayFriday, May 20, 2016

Cuban Independence Day and TV Celeb David Guas Traces Cuban RootsWith Cuban blood running deep in his veins, New Orleans native chef David Guas honors his heritage not just on Cuban Independence DayFriday, May 20—but daily through his cuisine and continuous ancestral research. Unraveling the storied past of the prestigious Guas family, David traces his lineage back to a circle of high-profile Cuban dignitaries and the elite—one that left a mark on the country’s history and paints a vivid picture of a lush, pre-Castro era. Chef David Guas’s great-uncle, Dr. Rafael Guas Inclán, served as the last elected Vice President under Fulgencio Batista prior to the revolution and was later elected Mayor of Havana just before Castro seized control.

With restored diplomacy between our two counties, now more than ever, Guas and other Cuban-Americans are taking the lead to showcase the rich tapestry of a country beyond the cliché of imported cigars and rum. Long before the travel ban was lifted, he and his Cuban-born father Mariano traveled to the country in 2012, on the 50th anniversary  OFwhen his father was forced to leave and sent to a boarding school in Mississippi. For Mariano, it was his first return since fleeing to the U.S. as a teenager. Together, they visited Mariano’s childhood home in Havana and found the kind lady he once knew as his neighbor, still living at the age of 90 with her grand daughter.  Tears were shed. Trekking through yards to get to his seaside summer family house at Cabanas Bay, he learned upon arrival that it had been burned down to the ground, but the dock was still there. He found the church he was baptized in, and saw the yacht club, markets and shops, that he once frequented now crumbling. While they carefully followed the thread that weaves together the high-society family’s history—one of doctors, lawyers, politicians and Tuna processing plant owners—the exploration proved that there are still many stones left unturned.  Mariano Guas needs to go back and find old classmates and family friends.

Cuban Independence Day and TV Celeb David Guas Traces Cuban RootsWhile Guas honors his legacy through the menu of his restaurants Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery [Arlington, VA & Washington, DC], it is on Cuban Independence Day that the rest of us commemorate this island nation and its secession from the U.S. With most of the exiled Guases rooted in Miami and New Orleans, David relished his visits where relatives would greet him at the airport with flaky Pastelitos in hand and afternoons were spent on sun-drenched patios around the grill, cruising Calle Ocho Street and ducking into cafés for Pressed Cubanos. These memories cultivated his cooking style and colored his life. Today, he brings these flavors to his guests every Wednesday at Bayou Bakery – from Pastelitos filled with the peppery-citrus burst of Guava Cream Cheese to Pressed Cubanos with the authentic combination of Slow Roasted Pork, Smoked Ham, Swiss Cheese, Yellow Mustard and Pickles. With the same potency of the famed espresso drinks of Cuba, his Cortadito is certainly not one for the faint-of-heart!

Drawing on the parallels of Cuban and New Orleans influences, Guas’ cuisine offers a celebration of a country once lost, but certainly never forgotten, and now alive once again.

Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery | | social: @bayoubakery
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