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US chefs in Cuba


#1

I know some of you don’t like to read US news but I thought it was an interesting article if you read it through.
http://news.yahoo.com/california-chefs-encourage-fresh-dining-cuba-204047130.html


#2

Nice to see the initiative. They sure summed up the present fare.


#3

funny to read some of the comments below the story.
How could they have arranged this, I thought regular Americans weren’t allowed to visit Cuba, not that Cuba wouldn’t let them in but the US government would stop them


#4

The group included politicians, that would help. There are a great many ‘regular’ Americans going to Cuba. I have no idea why or how but they seem to be an a group of one form or another.


#5

The U.S. has lightened up a lot lately, and there have been many U.S. groups touring Cuba legitimately. “For educational and cultural purposes”. “Study groups” I believe they are officially labelled. And of course lots of Americans have been going there for years via Mexico and Canada. :smiley:


#6

Oh I’m aware they are going to Cuba through Mexico and Canada, I’ve met some, but technically it is illegal. That’s why they get so paranoid about having their passport stamped
You’re right about the politicians though, it’s OK for them, like in Canada, they are special :-/


#7

eeefarm has it right. There are lots of cultural exchanges that have been going on for years, all perfectly legal. The group has to get permission from the State Dept. but i believe it is fairly easy to get. that program has been accelerating of late. I met a planner from the US at MCSM this year who was bringing a larger ‘study’ group over and checking out resorts for their ‘off time’.

My guess that it’s the US way of getting around their own embargo. Probably a gentle way of dropping the barriers gradually.

As I have posted before, Cuba is a gigantic leap away from providing the services that Americans will expect for the American ‘tourist’ crowd. It’s not just the embargo of goods, it’s the culture of ‘not caring’ about working hard to please tourists. There are plenty of Canadians that are fed up with the lack of good service at resorts. as a recent TA thread on tipping highlights.


#8

dax, I actually read that thread, and I know what you mean but do you really think Canadians expect anything different than their American counterparts do when it comes to travel. I think we North American wants are mostly the same.
Funny about that tipping, I’ve been to Cuba ten times now and I’ve never been asked for a tip. I’ve had beggars bug me a couple times, one person wave a cane with obvious mental disorders at me but never been asked for a tip. I’ve received terrible service in a bar on Ensanachos, not because I didn’t tip, just because he was a prick, not just to me, but to multiple people. Even when you tipped he still treated you poorly
Seems to me the tipping problem is a localized lower end resort problem, and I think most Americans would like Cuba and I think Cuba is ready to let them come


#9

Yes I do. There are a lot of Canadians who have been to Cuba and won’t ever return due to poor food and service. I think Canadians in general are more willing to accept lower standards due to 2 reasons:

They are very sympathetic to the plight of the Cuban people. That goes along with Canadians generally being more polite not to raise as much fuss when they receive poor treatment or get served slop for supper.

Second (my favourite), Canadians are willing to put up with poor service and food when they get a real bargain. Let’s face facts. Tourism in Cuba would whither to near zero if their prices matched those of St. Lucia, Barbados, Jamaica, etc.

To be fair, I have no idea how Cuba can offer what it does when I pay $500. for a week, all in, which leaves next to zilch for actual food and accommodation.

I think the changes the Cuban gov’t are now embarking on will indeed change Cuba forever. Hard for me to say how it will all turn out. Even harder to see how the US will recover from their massive debt which will affect all of us much more.

Not trying to pick a fight, the future has never been so hard to predict for all of us. That’s why I like to sit on the beach and drink a lot while I still can. ::slight_smile: ::slight_smile: ::slight_smile:


#10

I know your not trying to pick a fight, just bantering.
I personally have never been fixed a bowl of slop for supper, maybe because I stick to the 4.5 and 5 star resorts.
Quite honestly, I know the Americans have a bad rep but I’ll tell you, I’ve seen Canadians from a certain province a lot worse than them. I think Americans know a bargain when they see it and would flock to Cuba knowing the place isn’t another Barbados, take a little lower standard and be happy
But who knows for sure.


#11

We go to Cuba because of what it is - natural, relaxing, laid back without all the busyness. We really like the fact that we’re on “Cuban time”. At BJ we’ve never had a problem with any staff as we treat them as friends. Always have had good service tip or no tip. We enjoy the culture AND their food. Also not looking forward to the Americans coming in “to save the Country”. I’ve already seen on CNN that “the Cuban people want us (the USA) to come in and help them.” The last thing I want to see is Burger Kings, McDonalds, KFC, etc. popping up and ruining the Country. If (and when) the embargo ends and things start changing too much, we’ll be finding somewhere else to vacation . We’re happy the way it is !!


#12

Dax, you make some interesting points but I think you generalize Canadians. Speaking personally (as a Canadian), I don’t put up with inferiour standards - anywhere. You are correct that many travellers focus only on how cheap they can get a vacation (and I’m sure it’s not just travelling to Cuba) and then bitch and whine about the crappy food and service and horrible resort. I’ve overheard those types of comments so many times in airports and restaurants, etc. and all I do is shake my head and think to myself - you got what $500 (inc. taxes) buys.
For us, a vacation is a special treat not to be treated cheaply and we have enjoyed ourselves immensely without bad experiences. Even when we visit Havana, we haven’t had issues with surly treatment or bad service and definitely wouldn’t put up with. You can still be a polite Canadian but you sure don’t have to be a doormat! As for dining, Havana is sprouting with new dining experiences and we look forward to trying out some more gems on our next trip. Just like here in North America, you can have good meals or crappy meals but, if you remain choosy and do your pre trip homework, you can have some excellent dining experiences.


#13

As far as I’m concerned you said it all Steffiej ! Similar to here at home - do you want fast food at a cheaper price or spend more and get a quality meal ? Each to their own but we also would rather go once and have a great vacation than twice (for the same dollar value) and have them only so-so irregardless of what country or place it is. Someone here a couple years ago said the same sun shines on a 3 star as well as a 4 or 5 and if this is your choice - then that’s fine but as was just said, don’t complain about anything. Everyone has their own thoughts on this and “that’s what makes the world go 'round”. How boring, eh, if everyone thought the same. Cuban beans and rice ?? If BJ served them for breakfast my wife would be having them then also !! So often you hear “you don’t go to Cuba for the food.” Well we do. Just like in England. I don’t drink Canadian beer there but want to sample their British room temperature Bitters and traditional foods. As Steffiej said - do your homework. Of course you can’t “ace” it all the time but more great experiences than bad. It’ll be good to read more comments on this. Speak your mind, folks !


#14

The only difference I have noticed between US citizens & Canadians (we all live in the Americas) is the US are more patriotic.

There are the “Princesses” who put on airs demanding to be waited on hand & foot. These Canadians/“Americans” tend to frequent 4.5-5* hotels/resorts or cruise ships. I tend to stay far away from that type.

Then there the normal people who like to experience life as it is, when in Rome do as the Romans do style, who normally are fine companions any where in the world. Frequent 2-4* places.

There is a third type, mostly Canadians as their “American” counterpart are mainly rednecks who don’t have passports, that expect Champagne holidays on a Beer budget. This type would kick if playing football & get their thrills through complaining how bad everything was. These sorry souls are to be laughed at. Normally found at 2* or the lower end 3* places.

Personally in Cuba have never experienced “slop” for supper or service as bad as at some Canadian establishments. Even Club Amigo Guardalavaca had satisfactory service & food in the buffet (better than my college cafeteria lol).

In the end your trip is what “YOU” make it!:slight_smile:


#15

I wouldn’t go back if I saw a McDonald’s

I also happen to like the food in Cuba, I’ve been enough times I know what I like, what I don’t like, it’s almost always healthy and very little deep fried food


#16

Well said vagabond. Cuba star ratings are based partly on how many pools and how close to shopping as well as the beaches and accommodations. I always kid that a Cuban 5 Star is a 3 star hotel on a 9 star beach. We’ve sampled the “Stars” and love our little 3 Star on Cayo Largo that has great food and people who are just as nice as we are.
Americans (I pronounced it Amurican while typing) have the same problem with mis-matched expectations we do and can lose it too. Some do wear their patriotism on their sleeves and some Canadians wear maple leaves on our boxers. I do get a hoot when they call CNN liberal. LOL


#17

Vagabond, I never thought I’d say this ;)- I agree with your comments ;D ;D


#18

That was actually one place I would never, ever return to. When we were there, too many people were sick and it was obvious why. Food that was supposed to be kept cold (cold meat & cheese) was left out for many hours at room temps. At 2 a la cartes, the food was so bad that almost everyone got up and left when they were served. We stayed because it was a question of the lesser of two evils. There was a giant (one foot) chunk of green mold growing in the corner of the room we were assigned. I camped out in the manager’s office for 2 hours before she finally found us another room and I was forced to pay for it. BTW, there was a line of people behind me waiting for room changes.

The worst ‘slop’ we had was at a Brisas where the main meat option one night was platters of chicken backs with all bones and zero meat. I picked through trying to find something, anything with meat on it but it was all bones. I waited for another platter to come out, expecting legs or wings. Nope. More backs. I guessed that a few dozen chickens fly out the back door of the kitchen, minus their spines. A few days later, we were suddenly greeted by a whole new kitchen staff and all new servers. Hmmm. My hunch was right, the back door was leaky.

That is bad management. Yes, we still made the holiday into fun but no one should have to put up with that, anywhere at any price. I’ve stayed at a one stars in Morocco, Spain & Italy that were so much better and the owners were proud of what they offered.


#19

That was actually one place I would never, ever return to. When we were there, too many people were sick and it was obvious why. Food that was supposed to be kept cold (cold meat & cheese) was left out for many hours at room temps. At 2 a la cartes, the food was so bad that almost everyone got up and left when they were served. We stayed because it was a question of the lesser of two evils. There was a giant (one foot) chunk of green mold growing in the corner of the room we were assigned. I camped out in the manager’s office for 2 hours before she finally found us another room and I was forced to pay for it. BTW, there was a line of people behind me waiting for room changes.

The worst ‘slop’ we had was at a Brisas where the main meat option one night was platters of chicken backs with all bones and zero meat. I picked through trying to find something, anything with meat on it but it was all bones. I waited for another platter to come out, expecting legs or wings. Nope. More backs. I guessed that a few dozen chickens fly out the back door of the kitchen, minus their spines. A few days later, we were suddenly greeted by a whole new kitchen staff and all new servers. Hmmm. My hunch was right, the back door was leaky.

That is bad management. Yes, we still made the holiday into fun but no one should have to put up with that, anywhere at any price. I’ve stayed at a one stars in Morocco, Spain & Italy that were so much better and the owners were proud of what they offered. [/quote]

As the saying goes “Cuba isn’t for everyone!”


#20

That’s a really poor statement. I’ve been to lots of great resorts in Cuba and my reviews are fair and honest. We’ve had some great experiences.

Are you saying that customers should lower their standards and accept the kinds of things I wrote about at two 3 1/2 star resorts???

The more people accept that without speaking up, the more the Cuban regime will assume that it is perfectly acceptable.