HAVANA CULINARY EXCHANGE

Led by Chef Douglas Rodriguez

September 24 thru October 1, 2016

The first HAVANA CULINARY EXCHANGE brings together leading chefs, Sommeliers, Mixologists and Wineries from United States and Cuba to celebrate and advance public knowledge of and appreciation for great food and wine event The Festival provides a diverse range of interactive and educational epicurean experience while showcasing the area’s unique and rich culture, history and traditions interacting with the Cuban society.

TRIP COST

$4,950.00 Per Passenger

$300 Single Supplement

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What’s included:

  • Round trip airfare – MIA-HAV-MIA.

  • Cuban Tourist Card – Visa.

  • Accommodation at 5 Star Hotel “Parque Central” .

  • All meals as listed in itinerary, including coffee breaks in the conferences andclasses (all breakfasts, 6 Lunches and all Events).

  • Ground transportation in air conditioner bus, equipped with cold water at all times.

  • Admission to all public buildings listed in itinerary.

  • Travel escort and local Cuban bilingual tour guide.

  • Airport Taxes and Fees.

  • Cuban airport departure tax.

  • Health insurance for emergency coverage.

  • 24 hour assistance.

  • Compliance with US Treasury Department.


What’s not included:

  • Airfare to/from Miami.

  • Meals other that listed on itinerary or describe as on your own.

  • Gratuities for guide and driver.

  • Individualized hotel expenses (mini bar, room services, laundry fees, etc.).

  • *** A Cuban born traveler’s please contact our office prior to fill the reservation form.

Sept 24, 2016, Day 1

Arrive at Miami Airport for check-in on flight to Havana

Your group will be met by a Cuba Tours & Travel customer service representative to assist you with check-in and answer any last minute questions. The details will be provided in your final itinerary. We pride ourselves in giving you the best Cuba experience possible and it starts before you even get on the plane.


Depart to Havana


Arrive in Havana

A remarkably short flight away from Miami International Airport - just enough time to reach altitude and descend, Havana lies waiting in all her glory. In just 45 minutes, you are transported to another place in time. Havana’s enchantment is not limited to her time-worn charm or rich and diverse cultural identity -- it’s in the light, the sounds, the Caribbean Sea at her feet and most of all, in her people. Welcome to Havana!

Meet with your tour guide who will be with you throughout the trip


Check-in at the “Parque Central” hotel

Located in Havana’s most culturally vibrant and densely-populated neighborhoods, right on the city’s “Central Park”, the Hotel Parque Central is comprised of a perfectly restored colonial tower and a modern tower connected by an underground tunnel. Both towers boast rooftop terraces with swimming pools, creating an oasis in the heart of Havana. You will enjoy a lovely lunch of international cuisine, phenomenal views and of course, a great smoke after lunch.


Orientation meeting at the hotel

We will take a few moment to offer an Orientation to the city and familiarization of the neighborhood around the hotel.

Dinner at the hotel "Tapas, Sangria and Flamenco"

Six American chefs and Six cuban chefs team up and prepare one tapa each and one sangria between them. Our guests get to enjoy 12 composed tapas and six sangrias. The guests will vott for their favorite dish. They will enjoy a private Flamenco performance during the meal.

Sept 25, 2016, Day 2

11:00 Brunch Event: "Charanga Champagne"

Six American chefs prepare two dishes each, savory and sweet with free flowing tropical fruit mimosas. The guests will be able to try 12 dishes and six cocktails. The buffet will be served around the pool while listening to music by La Charanga Habanera. One of the most popular dance bands in Cuba, the Charanga was founded in 1988 as a special project and was popular enough that it, and leader David Calzado, have lasted to this day and are nothing less of an institution having shared the stage with such famous artists as Donna Summer, Stevie Wonder and James Brown, to name a few.


3:00 Old Havana walking tour

Old Havana is a magical journey through five centuries of history and architecture that culminate to comprise Cuba’s first of many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The historic core of Havana is defined by the limits of the ancient colonial settlement founded in 1519 and that was later girded by fortified walls. Practically all architectural styles intertwine in this quarter making it the largest and most complete colonial compound in Latin America. The homogeneous ensemble of private houses with arcades, balconies, wrought iron gates and internal courtyards -- many evocatively time worn, but many restored to their original majesty.

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6:00 Back to the hotel


8:00 Visit Hotel Nacional for a cocktail

Prior to 1959, Cuba was a favorite destination for the “mob”. A Havana “Mafia Tour”, designed and guided by an expert on the subject, will trace the antics of Meyer Lansky, financier for the Hotel Riviera. You’ll visit Hotel Sevilla that housed one of Al Capone’s favorite casinos and the Hotel Capri, financed by Hyman Roth and owned by the mob boss Santo Traficcante, which was also the fictional location for scene from The Godfather. No Mafia Tour would be complete without a visit to Havana’s iconic Hotel Nacional. The Hotel was the favorite hotel of the era, founded in 1924 and located high on a coral rock bluff looking out over the Caribbean and the opening of Havana Harbor. A cocktail before lunch on the natural coral terrace of the Hotel Nacional will make for a perfect aperitif.


10:00 Visit "Cabaret Parisien"

Located on the property of Havana's magnificent Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Le Parisien Cabaret has hosted some of the biggest stars in the world and to this day offers a great show "Cuban, Cubano". It is a stunning venue, reminiscent of an era when Havana was the most glamorous city in the Americas.

Sept 26, 2016, Day 3

8:00 Breakfast at the hotel

You will be met by your guide in the lobby after breakfast to begin the day’s program.


9:00 Visit "Hemingway house Finca Vigia"

Named Finca Vigia or “Lookout Farm”, the home was built in 1866 and purchased by Hemingway in 1940. This property, emerging from a lush tropical flora and fauna, was his primary home from 1940 until his death in 1961. Hemingway loved Cuba and according to close sources, he spent more time there during those two decades that any of his homes around the world. Here, Hemingway wrote his Pulitzer Prize winning novel, “The Old Man and the Sea”, and his famous fishing boat, El Pilar, is also on display here. In 1962, Finca Vigia was turned into a museum making it the first institution in the world devoted to Ernest Hemingway and his work. Recently, the feature film, “Papa” was filmed on location in Cuba and much of it at Finca Vigia.

12:00 Lunch at a private paladar


2:30 Walking tour of Cojimar

“Papa ́s” passion for fishing and drinking has left an indelible mark on Caribbean seaside the town of Cojimar, the picturesque fishing village where Hemingway docked his boat, El Pilar, and where some old timers might still remember Hemingway and his guide, Gregorio, whom the “old man” was based on. Enjoy this seaside fishing port village that is almost frozen in time since Hemingway made it his favorite hangout.


4:00 Back to the hotel


8:00 Dinner at the hotel "Swine and Wine"

Celebrating Cuban Heritage - Pigs with American wines .

Six American chefs and six Cuban chefs each prepare a pork dish hot or cold, making sure they are six distinctly different dishes one from the other. The wines will be provided by six American wine sponsors and delivered for the USA. The guests will vote on the winning pork dish.

Sept 27, 2016, Day 4

7:00 Early breakfast at the hotel

You will be met by your guide in the lobby after breakfast to begin the day’s program.


8:00 Depart to Pinar del Rio, visit Robaina’s Farm

Pinar del Rio is Cuba’s westernmost province and is known for its breathtaking panoramas and unique natural landscapes. The vast and diverse attractions that can be enjoyed in Pinar del Rio range from exploring caves that are archeological sites covered in ancient indigenous drawings; prehistoric natural phenomena seen nowhere else on Earth such as the “mogotes”; lush and verdant landscapes of tobacco and sugarcane. Tropical flora and fauna are remarkably abundant; pristine coral reefs offer the best diving in the world and, once a year when the wind is just right, you get the best surf in Cuba. The natural beauty of Pinar del Rio is only surpassed by the old world charm of its towns and its people. Home to Cuba’s great farming legacy, where tobacco and sugar are king there remain the vestiges of a provincial elegance steeped in tradition.

10:00 Stop at “Las Terrazas de Soroa”

The pioneering eco-village of Las Terrazas dates back to a reforestation project in 1968. Today it’s a Unesco Biosphere Reserve, a burgeoning activity center, with Cuba’s only canopy tour, and the site of the earliest surviving coffee plantations in Cuba. Not surprisingly, it attracts day-trippers from Havana by the busload. Overnighters can stay in the community’s sole hotel, an upmarket eco-resort built between 1992 and 1994 by workers drawn from Las Terrazas to attract foreign tourists. Close by, in the picturesque whitewashed village that overlooks a small lake, there’s a vibrant art community with open studios, woodwork and pottery workshops. But the region’s biggest attraction is its verdant natural surroundings, which are ideal for hiking, relaxing and bird-watching.


11:00 Continue trip to Pinar del Rio Visit Tobacco Fields

The best black tobacco in the world is cultivated from the soil of this rich and fertile land. When visiting Pinar del Rio province you will pass acre after acre of lush, verdant tobacco plantations. The soil in Pinar del Rio is the best soil with just the right conditions to grow and harvest the leaves to elaborate the best cigar in the world - the Habano. No trip to Cuba is complete without visiting a tobacco farm and seeing for your own eyes the majestically beautiful lands where tobacco grows and meet the farmers of this valuable crop. This is Cuba in all of its natural glory.

12:00 Lunch at Robaina’s Farm

The famous Robaina vegas (fields), in the rich Vuelta Abajo region southwest of Pinar del Río, have been growing quality tobacco since 1845, but it wasn't until 1997 that a brand of cigars known as Vegas Robaina was first launched to wide international acclaim. Despite the death of former owner Alejandro Robaina, who made the brand so famous, in April 2010, the show must go on, and does at the plantation today: it's been open to outside visitors for some years.

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3:00 Visit Viñales Valley

Boasting the most spectacular scenery in all of Cuba, the Vinales Valley dates back to the Jurassic period and is, geologically speaking, the oldest region of the island. While looking out across 51 square miles of majestic nature, you can almost sense the prehistoric creatures and humans making their way across the enormous valley and around the “Mogotes” rising dramatically from the ground, up to 1300 ft. high, dating back to when the ocean floor gave way to giant limestone formations. The valley is home to one of the largest cave systems in the Americas making these limestone formations navigable. In watery caves there are still remnants of prehistoric man in the form of ancient cave drawings. The tow of Vinales, founded in 1607, frozen in time offers a window into Cuba’s charming rural past. The Vinales Valley was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site in the late 1990s and is as heavenly a place on Earth as there will every be.

Stop at “Los Jasmines” to enjoy the spectacular view of the Viñales Valley, geologically one of the oldest region, where the last ray of sunlight will be used to take a photo.

5:00 Back to the hotel


8:00 Farewell dinner at the hotel "Noche Buena a lo Cubano"

This elegant dinner will take place at the hotel’s banquet hall, “Prado y Zulueta, and will feature a formal sit down dinner of a seven courses, with wine pairings for each course. Three Cuba-American chefs: Fernando Martinez, Alex Garcia and Douglas Rodriguez, with four Cuban chefs from the island, will prepare this elegant meal, each dish plated and served on white table cloths. Each course will be paired with a wine and afterward, dessert will be enjoyed with cigars and vintage rums, curated by the premier Habanos Sommelier, Fernando Fernandez Milian.

Sept 28, 2016, Day 5

8:00 Breakfast at the hotel

You will be met by your guide in the lobby after breakfast to begin the day’s program.


9:00 Visit Revolution Museum

Political history buffs will want to come back for more. This museum was built between 1913 and 1920 and used by a string of cash-embezzling Cuban presidents, culminating in Fulgencio Batista. (Boo!) Tiffany's of New York decorated the interior, and the shimmering Salón de los Espejos (Room of Mirrors) was designed to resemble the eponymous room at the Palace of Versailles. The museum descends chronologically from the top floor starting with Cubas pre-Columbian culture and extending to the present-day socialist regime (con mucho propaganda!). The downstairs rooms have some interesting exhibits on the 1953 Moncada attack and the life of Che Guevara (the stud muffin of the revolution!), and highlight a Cuban penchant for displaying blood-stained military uniforms.


11:00 Ride Old Classic cars

You will be picked up at you hotel and whisked away to your farewell dinner in perfectly restored vintage 1950s convertibles and enjoy an amazing driven tour of Havana’s “malecon” on the way. The quintessential avenue that wraps around Havana from La Habana Vieja to the Almendares River, hugging the famous sea wall that protects the city from the crashing waves of the Caribbean Sea offers the perfect sunset view. This drive is a retrospective, nostalgic journey through time and you can feel you’re in the 1950s with the backdrop of the Cuban skyline, nearly frozen in time.

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1:00 Lunch at a private paladar.


3:00 Visit "San Jose warehouse "Art and Craft Market"

Almacenes San Jose, the vast craft market right on the docks at the Port of Havana, offers an impressive diversity of goods and artwork crafted by artists and artisans in Cuba. You can walk up and down the aisles between stands, while the vendors play their maracas and claves in the morning breeze coming off the bay, and find everything from traditional souvenirs, original paintings, an impressive array of fashion, leather goods and accessories, all designed and handmade by local talent. Your last stroll through the picturesque, narrow streets of Old Havana and farewell ride up the Malecon will leave the indelible mark on your memory that Havana inevitably leaves on all who have made her acquaintance and dream of returning to explore the rest of this island paradise.


5:00 Back to the hotel

8:00 Dinner at the hotel "Chino Latino Night" - Poolside Modern Building

Sundown over Havana

This meal will feature dishes combining Latin ingredients with an Asian flare. . Six American chefs and and six Cuban chefs will each prepare a dim sum, sushi, skewer tapa or empanada, or ceviche -- all with Latina ingredients and an Asian flare. The guests will have the opportunity to cast their ballots and for the best Chino-Cubano dish.

Sept 29, 2016, Day 6

7:00 Early breakfast at the hotel

You will be met by your guide in the lobby after breakfast to begin the day’s program.


8:00 Depart to Varadero – Matanzas

On the northern coast of Cuba in Matanzas Province there a long thin peninsula named for a rare type of cactus, the Hicacos Peninsula. Lying between the Bay of Cardenas and the Caribbean Sea, this thin strip of land offers some of the most coveted beaches in the world and the quintessential beach resort town of Varadero at its eastern tip. Varadero has many unique, historical sites within the city limits offering a peek into a luxurious past where this town was the definitive Caribbean playground for wealthy Americans until 1959. You can still play 18 holes and have cocktails and the oceanfront mansion built by the American industrialist, Henri Dupont, in the 1920’s.

10:00 Yumuri Valley and The Bacunayagua bridge - Pina Coladas and panoramas

On your way back to Havana, you will make a stop for Pina Coladas at the mirador of the Bacunayagua Bridge. The Yumuri Valley is among the most beautiful and breathtaking natural phenomenon of Cuba. Over 89 Acres wide and reaching altitude of 150 meters, extending to the shore of the Caribbean Sea, it is also a unique ecosystem and home to important archeological sites. The Bacunayagua Bridge traverses the valley, a fete of engineering that offers spectacular and unforgettable panoramic views from the mountain ranges, across the lush and verdant valley all the way to the Caribbean Sea.


1:00 Lunch at Iberostar Varadero a five-star hotel at Hicacos Peninsula

Free afternoon.


8:00 Return to Havana

Sept 30, 2016, Day 7

8:00 Breakfast at the hotel

You will be met by your guide in the lobby after breakfast to begin the day’s program.


9:00 Visit Cigar Factory

A guided tour of one of the Cuba’s oldest cigar factories will give you a first-hand look at the manufacturing of the Habano. You will also have the opportunity to meet and speak with the master rollers that have inherited and will pass down the fine art of rolling the best cigars in the world. Located in the historic colonial district of La Habana Vieja, the factory also has a VIP lounge and a store, offering the US connoisseur the rare opportunity to purchase and smoke a Cuban cigar at the source made by the master rollers at Partagas.

11:00 Visit Rum museum

Situated in the historic district of Habana Vieja ("old Havana"), the museum is housed in a renovated 18th-century "solar" (colonial townhouse). Downstairs is a shady patio, with its broad stone columns and ferns, yuccas and potted palms. A visit to the Havana Club Museum of Rum isn't merely a journey back to the origins of Cuba's most famous beverage, the museum offers a real-time experience of the rum-making process, as well as a taste of true Cuban culture.


1:00 Lunch at a private restaurant


3:00 Visit Fine Art museum

Very near El Prado, still in the heart of Havana’s urban center where La Habana Vieja meetsCentro Habana, is a notoriously modern structure, housing the largest permanent collection of Cuban art in the world dating from the 16th Century to present. The collection boasts extensive works of the Cuban masters from the 1920s through the post-modernists of the 1980s who influenced a worldwide movement and hang in museums and private collections worldwide. The Palacio de Bellas Artes, curated to show exclusively Cuban works has its international counterpart in the Palacio del Centro Asturiano, devoted to universal art. You might have time for both, but you cannot miss the Cuban collection whose artists exemplify the profoundly multicultural, mysterious and rich history of Cuba and its people.


5:00 Back to Havana


8:00 Farewell dinner at the hotel "Tacos y Tequila"

Six American chefs and six Cuban chefs each prepare one taco and one tequila cocktail. The guests will enjoy this wonderful and refreshing change -- Mexican food in Cuba! And the ballot box will be there for the vote! Guests will choose one winning taco and one winning Tequila cocktail.

Oct 1, 2016, Day 8

8:00 Breakfast at the hotel

You will be met by your guide in the lobby after breakfast to begin the day’s program.


10:00 Check-out from the hotel


12:00 Depart to the airport


3:00 Check-in for Miami flight (time TBD)"Adios Cuba"

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Chef Douglas Rodriguez & Alma de Cuba Restaurant

As you may know, I’m a son of Cuban Immigrants, my first visit to Cuba was 2013 I was invited to cook at an Art Festival Biennial. Ten American chefs where paired with Cuban chefs to prepare a dinner, I sincerely can say that this trip changed me. The chefs in Cuba have none of the tools that a chef like us take for granted, limited food resources, limited equipment, no internet access and may other challenges that a Cuban chef can experience on a day to day basis, yet this chef all have a great outlook, I call them true Iron Chefs.

After returning home from this trip I wanted to find a way to help my fellow Cuban chefs and began to organize culinary trips to Cuba. I have been back 13 times since my first trip, meeting culinary Players in Cuba and finally found a way to help my fellow Cuban chefs get some exposures. I have created a culinary exchange event, where we can cook together with a Cuban chefs.

All of this has been possible with the help of my partners Restaurant Alma de Cuba in Philadelphia and SRO (Starr Restaurant Group) Alma de Cuba Restaurant. SRO thank you for helping me spread the word and bring people to Cuba.

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Cuba Tours and Travel

Cuba Tours and Travel has over fifteen years of experience offering expert-driven cultural travel to Cuba. Our management and program-design team, working together with a team of superb Cuban travel associates in both Havana and Miami, are uniquely suited to offer you the finest in-depth travel program to the island. We are licensed by the US and Cuba and are fully insured. Most importantly, we have an abiding love for Cuban art and culture and have strong connections to the cultural institutions on the island.


Cuba Tours and Travel is a full-service agency licensed by the U.S. Government

TSP# CU-077926-b. CST number 2073790-40. Fla. Seller of Travel Reg. No. ST39635


Miami, FL. Office

10631 N. Kendall Drive

Suite 1208

Miami, Fl. 33176


For more information: customerservice@cubatoursandtravel.com

or call us at 888 225-6439 Ext. 804