AL DÍA Chefs returns with Puyero Venezuelan Flavor
AL DÍA Chefs, our signature event showcasing some of the best Latino chefs in the Philadelphia region, launched a new series with Puyero’s arepa masters.
On May 10, the chefs behind Puyero Venezuelan Flavor joined AL DÍA News for the kickoff of our 2018 AL DÍA Chefs series. Until November, each month AL DÍA Chefs will present different Latino culinary artists who are helping to transform the restaurant scene in Philadelphia.
With a happy hour ambiance, AL DÍA Chefs opened its 2018 edition at Independence LIVE’s demonstration kitchen in Center City. Our guests were received by Gil Arends and Manuela Villasmil, both chefs and co-owners of Puyero, an eatery that brings the authentic taste of Venezuela to South Philly.
Upon arrival, guests received “papelon con limon,” a classic Venezuelan drink made of cooked sugarcane juice and lemons. The version served, though, also included Santa Teresa 1796, a traditional Venezuelan rum made of sugarcane and aged in wooden barrels.
The dish prepared was nothing less than their specialty: arepas!
Arepas are a traditional corn dish from Venezuela and Colombia that was inherited from the area’s native people. The dish, which has now been influenced by other cultures, today consists of a round dough made of cornflour filled with your choice of meat and/or cheese with a side of fried plantains.
During the cooking demonstration, Villasmil and Arends shared the story behind their restaurant’s name. According to them, the name Puyero comes from a Venezuelan coin from early to mid-1900s called a puya, which was much like the penny of today. These coins were frequently given to children as a treat.
When children accumulated enough puyas, it was said that they had a “puyero.” Kids would often take their puyero to a candy shop, excited to buy their fill of sweets. Villasmil told the crowd that Puyero Venezuelan Flavor aims to create a similar feeling for patrons.
“That’s what we want everyone to have when they come to the restaurant, and you here,” Villasmil said. “We want all of you to have fun, have a good time, and taste delicious food.”
During the presentation, the chefs discussed the similarities between some Latino recipes that were inherited from natives and the different ways that the arepa dough can be prepared and cooked, as well as the origin of their decision to open a restaurant.
Until it was time to eat.
Our next AL DÍA Chefs will be held on June 7 at 5:30 p.m. at the Independence LIVE, located at 1900 Market Street, Philadelphia.