WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — Cora Cora in West Hartford is proof that the American dream is still alive and well, as an immigrant family has turned an old McDonald's building into a nationally recognized Peruvian restaurant.
Head Chef Macarena Ludena has turned her Peruvian restaurant into a semifinalist nominee for two categories at the James Beard Awards. They are nominated for Outstanding Restaurant and Best Chef.
"It was a big surprise for us," said Ludena. "We've been working really hard with the pandemic and everything closing, so receiving this award means that we were working really hard."
Cora Cora has been serving up some of Connecticut's best food for the past 10 years, specializing in authentic Peruvian cuisine.
"Peruvian food is really such a beautiful food to cook because we show love and we show passion about it," said Ludena.
The James Beard awards, apart from recognizing a restaurant's commitment to culinary excellence, emphasize a restaurant's ability to provide gender and racial equity as well as sustainability culturally.
"We don't just give people jobs, we give people opportunities to grow in what they do," said Ludena.
Nashale Ortiz is one of those people given an opportunity at Cora Cora, who started working there at 16 and has since worked her way up to manager.
"It does give you opportunities because, with the money that I make her, it helps me with college," said Ortiz.
The final nominees for the Award will be revealed on Wednesday, March 16, 2022, in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Ludena said it would be more than a blessing to win the award.
"If we win it will be more than a blessing for us, the opportunity for everybody to stand up and tell everybody it's a Peruvian restaurant that can bring the heart to Connecticut."
'Cora Cora' in West Hartford
Daniel Dashefsky is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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