Puerto Rican Restaurateur Launches Cosa Nuestra: A Tribute to Cutting-Edge Latin American and Caribbean Cuisine, Art, Music & Culture
By: CARLOS A. CORIANO
Puerto Rican restaurateur Manolo López, creator of the comfort food pop-up Mofon·GO in Brooklyn, New York, is the mastermind behind Cosa Nuestra, a novel concept in tribute to cutting-edge Latin American and Caribbean cuisine, art, music and culture. Literally meaning “our thing,” Cosa Nuestra is a collective of the crème de la crème of Latino talent who wish to share their pride in their culture and their roots with the world.
Dishing on his inspiration, Manolo López shared that Cosa Nuestra is rooted in the iconic Fania All-Stars—a salsa group created in 1968 by Johnny Pacheco as a showcase for the top musicians and singers of the leading record label Fania Records. “Hector Lavoe, Willie Colón, Maelo Rivera, and Celia Cruz were amazing individual artists, but it was only when they formed Fania All-Stars that they had the chance to travel the world as a collective and share their music in places that were unheard of. Along with [other] distinguished musicians, they came together and created this [salsa] movement that embodied our culture and shared it with the world,” explained López.
To kick-start Cosa Nuestra, López teamed up with a group of Puerto Rican chefs and mixologists featuring Xavier Pacheco, chef of La Jaquita Baya; Leslie Cofresí, co-founder of La Factoría and owner of La Alcapurria Quemá; Roberto Berdecía, co-founder of La Factoría; Raúl Correa, executive chef of Zest Restaurant in the San Juan Water Beach Club Hotel; René Marichal, chef and partner of Avocado Cocina Local & Patio Bar, Gabriel Antúnez, chef of La Hacienda Meat Center, and Pit Master Fernando Luis Narváez.
Cosa Nuestra’s launch event will take place at on Saturday, April 23rd at 7:00 PM in Zen House on 165 Allen Street, New York, NY. It will celebrate the island’s culinary and mixology talents with interpretations of Puerto Rican street food such as bacalaítos, lechón asado, tripletas and mofongo, a selection of cocktails, and an exhibition of 11 visual artists from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic curated by Daniel Baez, including work by Pedro Adorno, Héctor Madera, Héctor Arce Espasas, Jonathan Torres, Fernando Pintado, Heryk Tomassini, Ricardo Cabret, Sebastian Vallejo, Christopher Rivera, Joiri Minaya, and Dulcina Abreu. Entertainment will include live music from Flaco Navaja and the Razor Blades complemented by DJ sets from Raquel Berríos (Buscabulla) and Riobamba.
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Manolo López moved to New York to study design at New York University. While working in product development and design, he frequently hosted private dinner parties showcasing Latin cuisine from the island and beyond. He yearned to pursue this passion full time, and in 2014, quit his job to found Mofon∙GO. He viewed it as a direct response to the lack of authentic Puerto Rican cuisine in today’s food startup scene. Merging his eye for design, training in business and upbringing in food, Mofon∙GO has been a labor of love from day one. www.mofongony.com