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Cocina Abierta
HAVANA, CUBA


Dear Vanessa,

I am writing to ask for your help to raise some money and skills for a very special project in Cuba, where I first traveled in early 2012 on an invitation from Tom & Nhu Miller of Green Cities Fund (greencitiesfund.org). In December 2012, we traveled to Havana with a delegation of about 40 U.S. chefs and friends for two weeks of programming to highlight the beautiful organic ingredients available within the city limits and from farms within a short driving distance. With Imogene Tondre and several other coordinators, we organized four major events: a dinner for 50 major Cuban paladar owners, a workshop for students and prominent Cuban food activists at a small culinary school in Havana, a Cuban state dinner for ministers and diplomats, and an impromptu street party where U.S. chefs cooked for neighborhood residents in Vedado, Havana.

Since December of 2012, Imogene has continued the work in Havana
 with Cuban chefs through various workshops, events, and culinary collaborations—including a recent visit from chef Narsai David of Berkeley, CA. We hope to soon find a permanent space in Havana, run by a collective of Cubans with collaboration from U.S. chefs--a diplomatic exchange of ideas centered around food. In addition to being open to the public, our team would workshop these traditional recipes for Cuban citizens and provide internships to young Cuban chefs.

In August 2014, through major assistance from Congresswoman Barbara Lee, we received an unprecedented license from OFAC (the Office of Foreign Assets Control) within the U.S. Treasury Department. We are able to spend up to U.S. $2 million toward the continuation of the project—one of the largest approvals ever given by OFAC since the embargo began.

We need to raise some money! For two things -- to fund research into traditional Cuban recipes, culinary traditions and agricultural practices from around the island. And to establish a permanent space. In order to get this off the ground, we need to raise $50k in the next two months and about $400k total to secure a space in Havana.

HERE IS HOW YOU CAN HELP!

1. Donate to 
http://greencitiesfund.org/donations/. If you are thinking of making a donation of larger than $100 or so, please consider mailing a check. If that would deter you, then just use PayPal.

2. If you are interested in offering your specialized skills, let's see if we can creatively make a plan to utilize them! We could certainly use donated time from website designers, video editors, chefs, restaurateurs, accountants and wizard generalists. If you would like to devote time to fundraising and formally become part of this cultural exchange, I am interested in setting up a development board for the project.

3. TRIPS TO CUBA! As a special offer, I will lead up to three (fully licensed) five-night customized trips to Havana for up to six people at a mutually agreeable date in the next two years (but no hard deadline!). Meet excellent friends in Havana, see farms, drink mojitos, and dance it out. Donation of $5k/person + flight/hotel expenses. Please e-mail me to inquire. (If you don't want me to come, and would prefer to ask me upwards of 100 questions about your potential trip to Cuba, please consider making a donation of $1k/person.)

4. Finally, if you are interested in making a larger, more "investment"-like donation to the project, there is a lot more to know about real estate, new laws, and more; and it's an extremely interesting opportunity for the right person. Please set up a time to talk to me!

________________________

Thank you so much, amigos! 
For more detailed information about the project, please click the following MailChimp link to download a PDF.

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/dfb360667987c56aa621304a9/files/Cocina_Abierta.pdf

Sincerely yours,
Varun
Cell: 510.566.7604


 
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