Southern Soul, Caribbean Flair, Euro-African Roots
Toriano was born and raised in Connecticut by his Grandparents and despite the New England zip code, their kitchen was situated well north of the Mason Dixon Line. During the Great Migration when millions of southern blacks made their way to the northern states, his Grandmother made her way from Andersonville, Georgia and his Grandfather from Hillsborough, North Carolina. They brought with them hundreds of years of culinary history, techniques and ingredients. On any given Sunday, she could be found keeping watch over a stove packed with southern classics like, collard greens, cornbread, fried chicken, sweet potatoes, chitterlings, ham, baked turkey and more. Sunday afternoon dinners were more than cooking big meals for the sake of it but carrying tradition and habit passed from the early Africans brought to America.
Serena was born in Queens New York to a Puerto Rican mother and multi-cultural father (African-American/Italian American). With that background and the backdrop of the cultural melting pot of New York City, Serena was exposed to many strong cultural influences with the Puerto Rican culture having a strongest imprint. When our lives came together, Serena would share stories of different dishes from her childhood; pastellios, tostones, pernil (roasted pork shoulder) and her favorite, Relleno de Papa and I would cook them and love the flavors. Naturally, I began blending some of the classic dishes from both of our grandmother’s tables to make unique and tasty dishes.
Empanadas, Hoecake Sandwiches, Tres Leches