From Rafa's kitchen to your table
They thought it up and executed it in little more than two weeks. From a brainstorming session among three friends, to a business launched as a contingency measure given the situation in which Cuba found itself at the end of July 2020.
One could say that this is how Rafa desde Casa (RDC) was born, a venture in which Rafael Baró (Rafa), Omar Bouso (Omarito) and Eddy García (Eddy) have been giving free rein to their imagination and culinary skills for a little more than two years.
“They had just closed the restaurant where the three of us were area managers, the gastronomic situation in Havana did not seem to be improving, so we were not going to find work easily. In the middle of the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we took a gamble with a very tight budget, and from the kitchen of Rafa’s house, we started the adventure,” Omarito tells Nego.
– Why the name, we asked Omarito.
– Rafa desde Casa was just that: a food delivery business that brought food to your home from Rafa’s house. Today, we are set up in a place equipped to do what we do, which is not the kitchen of a house,” he says.
They have a very Cuban menu, with a peculiar format of mixed bowls: pork, chicken, fish, salad, root vegetables, presented with exquisite attention to detail.
“It is our interpretation of a business model that was already very popular in the world, the Hawaiian “poke.” What we do is to make use of Cuban ingredients and recipes.”
Rafa is currently in Spain and from there he advises on the recipes and visualizes RDC’s dishes. Omarito is the general manager and head chef, and Eddy is in charge of the supplies and all the tasks outside the restaurant, “which are many,” Omarito assures.
“We also have a staff of several cooks and chefs who are doing very well and grow along with us.”
RDC is designed to work with what is on the market, simple recipes, but with powerful flavor, and with an uncommon menu format on the Cuban scene.
“As the business is designed to work with what is available, this leaves us a wide range of action, even when things are hard to get, we have the advantage of putting on the menu what we can. It is not something rigid and immovable, even so, it often becomes stressful due to the lack of several frequently used products, but we manage quite well,” he confesses.
He says that if he had to choose a star product on his menu, it would be the roast pork, accompanied by Moorish rice with pork scratchings, mini tostones, avocado and lettuce with white dressing.
Omarito’s passion for what he does is evident. He has the advantage of having gastronomic training, as do his partners, but he does not fail to recognize the enormous challenge of pushing ahead with his business at the current moment in Cuba.
“Having a gastronomic business anywhere in the world entails a creative challenge and overcoming a number of daily problems, which cannot be imagined by anyone who is not in this busines. Imagine in Cuba, where everything is a ‘little’ more difficult. At the end of the day what we do at RDC is to have a base of recipes that can be modified obtaining similar results, or we change to new recipes that fit the profile we work with.”
He assures that two years later they look back and are proud to have surpassed so many things and to be doing what “we feel like” in the kitchen.
“There’s something we learned at RDC: that you have to reinvent yourself many times, that when your business is at its best and is turning over the most, that’s the point at which you have to make bold changes. We have done well this way, with ups and downs, without electricity one day, without gas another, several without water, but we have always “put our heart and soul into it.”