Stories / Awards

2015 Who's Who Inductee: Maricel Presilla

JBF Editors

JBF Editors

May 27, 2015


The James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America is a cadre of the most accomplished food and beverage professionals in the country. Though they represent a diverse cross-section of the food and beverage industry—from chefs to journalists to farmers to business executives to scholars—each has been identified by his or her peers as having displayed remarkable talent and achievement. Every member of the Who’s Who has contributed in some substantial way to America’s constantly evolving culinary scene.


Maricel E. Presilla is an award-winning author, chef, and restaurateur who is widely recognized as one of the nation’s pre-eminent experts on the cuisines of Latin America. In 2013 her magnum opus, Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America, was honored as Cookbook of the Year by the James Beard Foundation and Best General Cookbook by the IACP. She was named the Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic in 2012, and was a semifinalist for the 2015 Outstanding Chef award. A Cuban native and Miami émigré, Presilla is currently the chef and co-owner of restaurants Zafra and Cucharamama, as well as Latin gourmet market, bakery, and chocolate shop Ultramarinos, all of which are in Hoboken, New Jersey. Presilla is also extremely knowledgeable about Latin American chocolate production: in addition to having authored The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History of Chocolate with Recipes, she is also the president of Gran Cacao, a Latin American marketing company that specializes in heirloom cacao beans; a board member for the Fine Chocolate Industry Association; and the Americas partner for the International Chocolate Awards, the world’s largest independent chocolate competition.

Watch the short video above, which celebrates Presilla's career and aired at the 2015 James Beard Awards.