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Committed to Comida

Locally Sourced Latin Food Josue Chanduvi wants to teach his customers that food is a powerful thing. Grandma’s Spanish Kitchen, a Peruvian-Cuban restaurant, sits at 5143 U.S. Ave. in Plattsburgh, in a small building set back from the road. A colorful interior resembles the furnishings of a home with strong Latin roots as the sounds of Celia Cruz and Marc Anthony play from a small TV perched in front of the kitchen. Owner Josue Chanduvi glides from table to table taking orders, serving customers and striking up conversations. “We are the only Peruvian-Cuban restaurant from here to Schenectady,” he says…

(DoNorth/Nyela Graham)

Locally Sourced Latin Food

Josue Chanduvi wants to teach his customers that food is a powerful thing.
Grandma’s Spanish Kitchen, a Peruvian-Cuban restaurant, sits at 5143 U.S. Ave. in Plattsburgh, in a small building set back from the road. A colorful interior resembles the furnishings of a home with strong Latin roots as the sounds of Celia Cruz and Marc Anthony play from a small TV perched in front of the kitchen. Owner Josue Chanduvi glides from table to table taking orders, serving customers and striking up conversations.
“We are the only Peruvian-Cuban restaurant from here to Schenectady,” he says proudly. “We’re the only Latin restaurant from here to the state of Vermont.”
Chanduvi wants to bring the energy of Latin culture to his restaurant and to the North Country.
“When you’re in Peru, they have these little restaurants with plastic chairs, there’s music playing on a 90’s stereo with a cassette player, and people are just dancing,” he points to the seating area toward the back of the restaurant. “I would love to see people feel comfortable enough to dance as they are waiting for their food.”
Grandma’s Spanish Kitchen has been open for a year and a half. To Chanduvi, the timing just felt right. “I wanted a place where people felt comfortable, where people from different walks of life could feel at home. Regardless of where they come from. That’s essential.”

All of Chanduvi’s businesses, past, present and future, are named after his grandmother Lucia. A picture of her sits in the back of the restaurant surrounded by candles. He and his grandmother spent a great deal of time together while he was growing up and together frequently cooked for the family.
“Every business I’ve had has an origin back to my grandmother. She was a seamstress—we opened up a sewing shop. My grandmother loved candy, and she used to wake us up early at 3 or 4 and we would have candy and coffee—we opened a candy store.”
He feels that most people who experience a meal at Grandma’s Spanish Kitchen are changed by it. “They have a different perspective on their palette and on what food is.”
Farm-to-table fare was always a part of the Grandma’s Spanish Kitchen business plan. There are more than a hundred farms within a three-mile radius of Plattsburgh, and Chanduvi wants to create a relationship between grower and chef. GSK’s closest relationships are with Shady Grove Farms in Peru, New York and Black Sheep Farm in Valcour, New York. Shady Grove supplies cayenne peppers, habaneros, green beans, eggplants and red onions while Black Sheep Farm contributes heirloom tomatoes.

“When I have somebody come in and drop me off six or seven heirloom tomatoes or eggplants or jalapenos or cayenne peppers, they picked that that day—there is a story behind it.

That affects quality of food, it affects flavoring.” Chanduvi not only sees the importance of providing customers with a delicious meal but with an education about what they are eating. “Sometimes we get a plate of food, and we gobble it up. We don’t think about the process of getting it.”
“To be able to say this pork chop is local—the vegetables you are eating today or the heirloom tomatoes came from this place—it changes people’s mindset. The more we are able to do that as a restaurant, and as a community in whole, we start to have an idea of what quality is but also a perspective on where our food comes from.”
Chanduvi’s goal for the coming year is simple: be a restaurant at the forefront of the farm-to-table movement. “We are giving justice to the food that is grown here.”
“You have this coexisting of two people, somebody that is passionate about what they are doing and maybe they see three or four ingredients that we get from them in that dish. Their artwork is growing and developing a good product. Our artwork is converting that into our own thing.”

Issue: Winter/Spring 2019

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