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Meet Chef Coco of The Spanglish Vegan in Allapatha

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chef Coco.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Chef Coco. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Growing up and being Puerto Rican, food is a very important part of our culture. Food for us is not just about nutrition, but it’s about sharing community, sharing love and it’s honestly how we bond with each other. It’s pretty much our love language. I fell in love with being a chef at the age of 14. My sister had her best friend over, and her best friend was craving my Mom’s habichuelas guisa (bean stew). My Mom was out of town, so I stepped in and I called my Mom and asked her for the recipe. That’s the day that I fell in love with cooking.

After high school, I knew I wanted to be a chef but I was on the fence about what path to take. I decided to try out culinary school and see how I would like it. During culinary school, I had moments where I learned a lot, but I also realized that I personally would much rather learn from the amazing chefs I worked for than be swamped with student debts and pay school loans.

Fast forward to my mid 20’s, I came face to face with the reality of some health complications that would eventually lead me to become the Vegan chef I am today. I was diagnosed with lupus and fibromyalgia within the same year and it really took a toll on me physically, emotionally and mentally. My body was not able to handle the long hours that came with being a chef. Ultimately, I was faced with a difficult decision and in order to take care of my health, I had to give up being a chef for a few years.

Over the years, my dreams of becoming a chef only became stronger and as well as my dream to move to Miami. When the opportunity to move to Miami came,  I jumped at it! I knew that this is where I would make my dreams reality. As I was learning about healthier lifestyles and trying to balance my medical conditions, I started learning about veganism from a post I came across. Learning about the effects that going vegan can have on the body, It really intrigued me to the point where the research I did, convinced me that this was my path, and I was ready to change my life.

In 2018 I embarked on a Vegan cooking journey to share my love of food, and the lifestyle that had changed my health for the better. I started The Spanglish Vegan catering company so that others could enjoy Puerto Rican food without having to sacrifice the flavor.  I met my current business partner Melissa in December of 2018, and she really was such an amazing energy, and she had a lot of passion about my food and my suceess and we decided to go into business together in early 2019. Melissa focuses on the marketing and event coordinating so that I can focus on the food.

Has it been a smooth road?
Absolutely not at all. Being new business partners and strangers at the same time organizing a business came with it’s challenges. We have learned and grown a lot, as starting a business with no money our biggest hurdle was creating an authentic foundation we could grown on.  We had some business loans which we were denied for, eventually  we were able to get a credit card for 8 grand so that is where we were able to get our brand out there. We found a place in allopathy that needed some TLC but we got our hands dirty and got to work. We both quickly found out that our carpentry and my furniture makings skills were actually not too bad. Once we got it running, we had a good little clientele, but within a few months we were hit with a 90 day notice from the city and then it only got worse as someone robbed and vandalized the place we worked so hard for. This pushed us to set up shop at the Farmer’s market where we were embraced with open arms, and while we are currently about to launch our Food truck, our ultimate success has come from our delicious food, and our community that continusouly supports and shows up for us, rain our shine.

Please tell us about your work.
I am a Puerto Rican chef but I love creating dishes from all over the world. I have organized all my dishes but specialize in Caribbean vegan foods. I am super proud that my food can bring so many people together no matter your background or even choice in food. We have made family and friends out of our customers and the support the vegan community gives is incredible. Knowing that customers travel to see us and take care of us to the point where they watch out for our health and that’s all I need to feel like I have won in life.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
Miami is something special, the scenic views, the people, the food and just the overall atmosphere. Miami traffic is my least favorite thing about Miami but the opportunities that are within the city are worth it.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Raimage photography

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