Fun and Fit as a Family with Chef Fernando Desa

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 Interview  with Chef Fernando Desa, Goya Foods

Kiddos Magazine had the opportunity to chat with Chef Fernando Desa at SOBEWFF’s Fun and Fit as a Family, an annual event where kids and parents can learn the basics of a healthy lifestyle. Chef Desa is the Executive Chef and Manager of Product Development at Goya Foods. He has worked under some of the best chefs in the world and has a true passion for Latin Cuisine. When it comes to his cooking, Chef Desa likes to preserve traditional Latin flavors and also creates new, creative, and flavorful dishes. In this interview, Chef Desa discusses why he loves his job and what Latin cuisine means to him.

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Kiddos: As the Executive Chef of a company like GOYA, how has that impacted your culinary carrier?
Chef Desa: It’s been great because by being a chef at Goya Foods, I can choose over 2,200 different products – from frozen, to cans, to jars to spices – so it’s basically like if I have a library in my kitchen. I can create any dish I want from all different parts of the world: South America, Central America, the Caribbean, Mexico, Spain, Europe. So it has been great to be exposed to these kinds of ingredients. When you start to be a chef, you learn the basics in the kitchen, the ingredients, the instruments, and you work with chefs that train you to be the best in what you do.
Kiddos: How are Latinos’ tastes and preferences in their food different than the general market’s?
Chef Desa: I think it’s very different. I think Latino itself, in fact, is very different. When you go back to different parts of Latin America, there are all kinds of ingredients; some use chiles, some use pimientos, there are all different kinds of beans and rice with different flavors and textures, so it’s very different.
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Kiddos: Do you think families should engage with their kids in meal planning, shopping, and preparation?
Chef Desa: I think that dinner, lunch or breakfast is a time where families can enjoy being together. For me, this is the time that I can enjoy being with my kids and my wife so I think planning meals is the best time to spend time together because everyone can give their input with what they want. The most important thing is to eat healthy and fresh with a lot of flavors. For me, my three things in cooking are flavor, authenticity and fresh ingredients. 
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Kiddos: Can you give some tips to help kids learn healthy eating habits that will keep them happier and more active lives?
Chef Desa: The main thing is to have the perfect amount of ingredients with enough fiber and protein and to combine it with fresh ingredients and flavors. For example, grains and beans. In fact, my year and a half-year-old eats beans either in soups or just by itself. So combining fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein is the best way to have a great meal.
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Kiddos: Can you describe Chef Desa in 3 words?
Chef Desa: Flavor, flavor, flavor! For me, it’s about Latin fusion. It’s about creating smiles when people eat my food.
Interview: Veronica Lepere
Photography: Simply Chic Photography
Location: Sobewff”s Fun and Fit as a Family Event – Frost Science Museum