2019 James Beard Nominees Chef Cristina Martinez of South Philly Barbacoa & visiting Chef Maria Mercedes Grubb of Puerto Rico’s Gallo Negro will be preparing this special Octavitas dinner. Octavitas is a celebration that goes on for eight days following Three Kings Day (January 6th). It’s an extension of the Christmas season in Puerto Rico.
GUSTO and the Reading Terminal Market have partnered to present this special dinner to benefit Taller Salud. GUSTO, Philadelphia’s first LatinX culinary event series, is an effort focused on contributing to projects addressing the long-term needs of Puerto Rico as a result of the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The GUSTO event series presents a unique representation of Philadelphia’s vast LatinX culinary community, spotlighting food and drink talents.
Net proceeds from this event will benefit Taller Salud in Puerto Rico. Taller Salud is a community based feminist organization dedicated to improving women’s access to health care, to reducing violence within the community and to encourage economic growth through education and activism.
At the Octavitas dinner you will learn how to shop for ingredients and prepare a meal like a top chef! This intimate monthly afterhours dinner series will highlight how the Market can provide everything that you need to make a chef caliber meal at home. During the tour of the Market the chefs will show you how to choose the best ingredients for your meal and where they chose to source them from within the Market. Next, they will walk you through a step-by-step demonstration in our kitchen on how to make one of the courses on the evening’s menu using the ingredients that were just purchased. Finally, you will be experiencing gustatory bliss as you enjoy a one-of-a-kind multi-course, seasonal dinner prepared in the open kitchen.
Pozole at Reading
Bay Scallops, Saffron, Langostinos, Jitomate
Borrego Barbacoa, Salsa Tomatillo, Salsa Roja
Salsa Pipian, Mint Salsa Verde, Pepitas
Mezcal Raisins, Pineapple, Seasonal Fruit Compote
Please note that this dinner is BYOB. The Pennsylvania Pour Collective (located behind the Pennsylvania General Store along the Arch Street side of the Market) will be open until 6 pm if you'd like to purchase a bottle of spirits within the Market.
The evening will start at 5:30 in City Kitchen, located next to The Head Nut.
Chef Cristina Martinez is a Mexican chef and immigration activist in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Martinez is a native of Capulhuac, Mexico, and she is an undocumented immigrant who crossed the border from Juárez into the United States. She found a job in Philadelphia as a pastry chef in an Italian restaurant. Martinez was fired from the restaurant when they discovered her undocumented status, and she began cooking food for other Mexican workers in her apartment.
As demand grew for Martinez's home-made barbacoa, she began selling tacos from a pushcart on weekends. In 2015, she opened a permanent restaurant, South Philly Barbacoa. In 2016, Bon Appétit magazine named it one of the top ten best new restaurants in America.
Martinez is active in supporting undocumented immigrants in the restaurant industry. Together with her husband, Benjamin Miller, she established an organization, the Popular Alliance for Undocumented Workers' Rights. In 2017, Univision produced a Spanish-language podcast about Martinez, called Mejor vete, Cristina ("You Better Leave, Cristina"), which won Mejor Cobertura Multimedia (Best Multimedia Coverage) at the 2018 Ortega y Gasset Awards. Martinez was also featured on an episode of the Netflix series Chef's Table in 2018.
In 2019, Martinez was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic, and was a Basque Culinary World Prize Finalist.
Chef Maria Mercedes Grubb: A native of San Juan, María Mercedes Grubb grew up surrounded by her parents’ modest food vending business. In 2004 María made a move to New York City and immersed herself in the international culinary world. In addition to working in some of Manhattan’s leading kitchens, she was employed for years under James Beard award winner Chef Gabriel Kreuther at the Modern, a renowned 3 star New York Times and a Michelin Star Alsatian restaurant. Maria was part of the opening team at two major restaurants: Bar Basque, a restaurant focusing on Spain’s Basque Region Cuisine, and Maialino, Danny Mayer’s Italian restaurant in the trendy Gramercy Park Hotel.
María attended culinary school at the French Culinary Institute in New York City where she received the prestigious Outstanding Service Award. She also returned to the FCI in 2011 to serve as Sous Chef for independent events before moving back to Puerto Rico.
Maria started UDC (Underground Dining Club), PR’s pioneer pop-up restaurant with an emphasis in seasonal cooking. UDC featured international ingredients and cuisine, communal tables, and was an adventure for guests as it always took place at an undisclosed location.
In 2013 Maria and her brother opened Gallo Negro in Santurce, a trendsetting restaurant and a whiskey bar. As Executive Chef, Maria has continued to focus on using the freshest seasonal produce, while placing an emphasis on taste, whimsical composition, and presentations which highlight unknown international ingredients and cuisine.
In 2019, Chef María Mercedes became the first female in Puerto Rico’s food industry to be nominated for a James Beard Award for Best Chef. She was also selected by Food & Wine Magazine as one of the chefs leading Puerto Rico’s current culinary renaissance.