Absorbing all the experience she could, she decided to return to the small island where she grew up and establish her own restaurant, with her own style, giving birth to Juanita Banana's.
“My father and I always talked about setting up a restaurant when I returned, so we did, my way... so the concept of Juanita Bananas was born, Juanita as in Jennifer… and Banana’s ‘cause you must be crazy in this life ... you know, make it fun”.
After 3 years of preparation in December 2004, Juanita Bananas opens its doors and since then we haven’t stopped enjoying her culinary whims. It was her passion for sushi and Asian food that motivated her to take the risk of including sushi as part of their menu. “I ate sushi every week while studying. When I returned, we said ‘let’s do sushi Mondays’, but really it was to satisfy my cravings. It all started with a whim. I adapted my sushi to Culebra.” The salmon crunch roll was the one she served to convert people to sushi; so they would learn to love it.
Panko Crusted Risotto Balls, Sushi Style Asian Tuna, Asian Style Tuna Steak with White Asparagus Salad-Coconut Rice, Veggie Roll with broccoli, carrot, pepper, cucumber or a Pork Tenderloin Caramelized Onions & Comfit Tomatoes and Peruvian Fries are some of the dishes unveiled at her restaurant. In each you can savor the perfect blend of ingredients which makes each bite unique. Jennifer knows her ingredients and knows how to make the most of each.
“... The ingredients do not make the chef. It’s being able to make a five star dish with three basic ingredients. That’s what makes a good chef. You learn to cook with things that the place provides, not depend on certain ingredients.”
To Jennifer, the geographical limitations of Culebra are what forced her to experiment, to do what she could with what she had. “Always start with the things you know you have and then add an occasional little something special.” So with the help of her father, she built their hydroponic and created their own harvest which gave them from malanga to oregano.
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