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    Havana hookers rob US chef in art show

    Posted on Friday, 05.25.12

    Havana hookers rob US chef in art show

    Not funny, says critic of trips to Cuba

    By Juan O. Tamayo

    Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio jokingly tweeted, "I was no where near Cuba."

    So who was the New York chef, or assistant chef, who went to Cuba for a

    bit of food diplomacy and wound up being robbed by the two hookers he

    took back to his hotel room?

    It seems like nobody is willing to tell, although reports on the

    misadventure have been making the rounds of foodie blogs and websites

    and drawing jokes, insider jabs between chefs and at least one serious

    reproach of the trip to Havana.

    Ten prominent New York chefs flew to Cuba earlier this month for the

    11th annual Habana Bienal modern art show, to put on a piece of

    performance art with 10 Cuban counterparts — cooking in a kitchen built

    into a cargo container.

    But New York chef Sara Jenkins on Wednesday cast a different light on

    the visit when she tweeted, "So one of the American chefs in Cuba took

    two whores home with him and then got robbed of all his money

    #butofcourse #icantsaywho!"

    The restaurant, bar and nightlife blog Easter National swiftly published

    the tweet and began speculating on exactly which chef had been robbed,

    because some on the list of 10 never made it to Cuba and were replaced

    by others. Some also took assistants to Havana.

    Among the names mentioned were the chefs of famed New York restaurants

    like Hearth, Terroir, Sueños and Sunday Night Dinner and Alma de Cuba in

    Philadelphia, Eater National reported.

    Colicchio, a long-time judge on the reality TV show Top Chef, was not on

    any of the lists and his tweet was clearly a "not me" joke.

    After the brouhaha erupted, Jenkins, the chef at Porchetta in New York,

    sent a tweet apologizing "to all the chefs and colleagues who helped put

    together this amazing cultural exchange for indiscreetly calling out the

    behavior of one member."

    "What was meant to be some collegial ribbing in fact has instead

    reflected poorly on all the chefs who donated their time and energy to

    this project," she added. "And while I don't condone the individual's

    behavior, I do regret airing it publicly on Twitter. Social media lesson


    One reader's comment posted on the Easter National site said, "If it's

    good enough for the Secret Service and the DEA…" referring to the recent

    scandal involving the agencies and prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia.

    The kitchen performance, named "Project Paladar" after Cuba's

    family-owned restaurants, was part of a program designed to use food,

    cooking and eating to improve relations between the people of Cuba and

    the United States.

    Elizabeth M. Grady, an adjunct professor of art history at the State

    University of New York, managed the project for smARTpower, described on

    its web site as a U.S. State Department-funded initiative to use visual

    arts to bring people together.

    But the program drew fire from Mauricio Claver-Carone, director of the

    U.S.-Cuba Democracy Political Action Committee, which favors strong U.S.

    sanctions on the island's communist government.

    The chefs flew to Cuba under a new category of U.S. Treasury Department

    license approved by the Obama administration to promote so-called

    "people-to-people" contacts between Cubans and Americans.

    Too many U.S. visitors on those licenses are in fact engaging in pure

    tourism, which is illegal, and sometimes hiring Cuba's famously cheap

    hookers, Claver-Carone has complained.

    "As if serving gourmet meals while regular Cubans struggle to serve

    themselves any meal wasn't insulting enough, at least one of the chefs

    took the 'people-to-people' definition too literally," he complained

    Thursday in his blog, Capitol Hill Cubans.

    "Boy, these "people-to-people" programs are really winning the hearts

    and minds of the Cuban people," he joked. More seriously, he added,

    "Could this new policy be any more insulting and counter-productive?

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