Funk, Food & Fusion: How Latino Millennials Influence Food & Music

Hispanic millennials are making a great impact in our community. They have carved a new identity and are changing what it means to be Latino in the United States. NBC 6 explored how this new generation has stirred up a subculture through food and music that makes South Florida so unique.

“We try and get the rhythms from the past to come to the future and be a music that you could actually listen to without it sounding out,” said Leslie Cartaya, the lead singer of PALO!

For more than a decade, PALO!, an afro-Cuban funk band, has been fusing percussion, vocals and the saxophone to create an infectious Miami sound.

“I think for a while, Miami has been a hotbed for what I call Latin fusion music,” said Steve Roitstein, the founder of PALO!.

“We’re trying to make you see that music that you used to dance to a whole bunch of years ago in another perspective,” said Cartaya. “So then sometimes, it’s easier with younger people because they can kind of understand it and they feel it that way too. Because the city that you live in today is not the city that it was 10 years ago.”

“We’ve created such a great and enjoyable fusion that I say it is a fusion of the past, present and future,” said Raymer Olalde, a percussionist for PALO!.

Now, a new generation of Latinos are also the changing the landscape of the restaurant industry. The Andrade family is just one example. “La Ventanita,” or the window, at Islas Canarias was founded in 1977 by Nancy and Luis Andrade. Their daughter Eileen took the Cuban restaurant concept and put a spin on it by opening Amelia’s 1931 in the very same shopping center as her parents in West Kendall.

Amelia’s 1931 was named after Eileen’s grandmother and the year she was born.

“I wanted to pay homage to her. One of the first restaurants my family opened up in Miami was called “El Teide” and she worked the counter. So you will see mainly counter seating at Amelia’s. The vibe is very Abuelita. You feel like you’re at your grandmother’s house,” said Andrade.

The cuisine at Amelia’s fuses Asian, Cuban and Peruvian food, which is similar to Andrade’s second restaurant, Finka Table and Tap.

“I love mixing spicy with sweet and counterbalancing flavors and cuisines so when you come here, you can have your traditional croquet, but you can also have malanga tots with a spicy aji amarillo sauce on top,” said Andrade. “I think that’s the new Cuban cuisine that we’re bringing to Miami, which is keeping traditional flavors but adding a spin on it because want to make it a little more modern.”

Andrade credits millennial’s love for fusion food because of South Florida’s vibrant and diverse culture.

“Miami is a melting pot and we’ve been surrounded by so many different cultures and cuisines that we’re almost selfish and don’t want to just try one thing,” said Andrade. “We kind of want to put a bunch of different flavors together and it creates a fun experience. It’s something different.”

From cafecito, to leche de tigre. Peruvian food has a large foot print in South Florida, too.

Chef Carlos Brescia was born and raised in Chiclayo, Peru. He moved to Miami in 2000. A little over 10 years later, he opened Doctor Limon in Kendall.

Brescia says he named his restaurant Doctor Limon because of his ability to cure … a headache of sorts.

“After a party night, the hangover, they used to call me ‘Doctor Cure My Hangover.’ I cure it with lime!,” said Brescia.

Like Andrade, Brescia brings a lot of flavor and cuisines into his food.

“We use a lot of ingredients. We bring them from Peru. We work with local farmers also. We make a lot of fusion. I try to do fusion between Peruvian and Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Spain. A little bit of everything,” said Brescia.

In typical Latino fashion, Brescia credits his parents for his skills in the kitchen.

“I remember everything happening in the kitchen in my house,” said Brescia. “My mom cooks, my father used to cook. We used to have a restaurant [in Peru]. And everything goes around food and cooking in my family.”

Whether you decide to eat at Amelia’s, Dr. Limon, or your favorite restaurant, chances are you’re leaving with a smile and a full stomach. After all, the saying is pretty accurate, “Barriga llena, corazon contento.”

Contact Us