Cora Cora — the family-run, top-rated Peruvian restaurant in Hartford County known for making everything from scratch — has been named Semifinalist for the prestigious James Beard Award in two categories: “Outstanding Restaurant” and “Best Chef: Northeast.” It is the only restaurant in the Northeast nominated for “Outstanding Restaurant,” alongside semifinalists from New Orleans to Utah to New York City and Puerto Rico.
Open since 2011 under husband-and-wife team Hector Ludena and Luisa Jimenez, the restaurant offers patrons authentic, homemade Peruvian cuisine with heart. The couple hail from Cora Cora, Peru and are passionate about sharing their culture and hospitality through their restaurant in addition to helping their community through job creation. Residing in a former McDonald’s building, Cora Cora proves time and again that quality, skill, and heart shine through.
“We strive every day to serve our customers the way we would serve our family – with high-quality ingredients prepared with passion and love,” says Luisa Jimenez, owner of Cora Cora. “When people come to our restaurant, we are dedicated to giving them an experience of community, and we want them to feel that we are taking care of them the way we would our own family. To be recognized for this dedication by the James Beard Foundation is a tremendous honor.”
At the helm of Cora Cora’s kitchen is CEO and Chef Macarena Ludena, daughter of owners Hector and Luisa. Having worked her way up in Cora Cora from bussing tables over a decade ago, to the dessert station, ceviche station, Kitchen Manager, and now Head Chef, she leads her team by example and with generosity and expertise.
“I am truly honored by the James Beard Award Semifinalist nomination and am grateful to the Cora Cora team for always bringing their best to our customers and to each other,” says Chef Ludena, adding, “We prepare every dish seeking to show respect to our Peruvian heritage and gratitude to our American Dream, and we are humbled by our customers who have supported us over the last 11 years. Cooking Peruvian food is art, a way to transmit love. It’s something that takes me to places of my hometown and special childhood memories, and through these flavors, I can share it with our customers.”
The James Beard Awards, considered to be among the nation’s most prestigious honors, recognize exceptional talent in the culinary and food media industries, as well as a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive.