When people think of healthy food, Latino cuisine with double fried tostones and a religious devotion to pork, isn’t the first food that comes to mind. That is until you meet Chef Ronaldo Linares. Linares, a Colombian and Cuban American who is executive chef of Martino’s Cuban Restaurant in Somerville, New Jersey, wants to prove Latino food can be healthy food and still be a party in your mouth.
Linares has shown his skills on Chopped and BBC America’s Chef on the Run among several shows. He creates pop-up restaurants and is a regular at the New Jersey Food and Wine Festival. If you want to get up close and personal, check out his social media accounts where he posts videos on everything from how to peel a plantain to how to make a summer fruit salad.
After struggling with his own weight and seeing family members poor health due to poor diet Linares began to rethink nutrition. When he learned that over 12% of Latinos live with diabetes Linares was motivated to help in any way he could. He pitched the American Diabetes Association the idea of a cookbook of healthy Latin foods. The result was his first book, “Sabores de Cuba: Diabetes Friendly Traditional and Nuevo Cubano Cuisine”, was published in 2016. The 100 recipes featured are Linares’ own take on comida tipica that can help your health instead of harming it. He is even a spokesperson for the American Diabetic Association, Healthfirst and AARP.
With his mantra, “Cuban inspired, passion infused,” there’s no doubt Linares is on a mission. We spoke with Ronaldo about his cooking, why health is wealth and how he plans to change the world one social media post at a time.