LATINO Magazine presented its first GUSTO event recently in Austin, TX. GUSTO is a series of networking receptions around the country sponsored by Hilton Worldwide, NBCUniversal Telemundo and others celebrating the diversity of Latino culture through its cuisine.  Nonprofit partners include the American Heart Association and local organizations in each city.

This GUSTO event took place in the Hilton Austin located downtown, just a few weeks before the trendy SXSW festival. Participants included award-winning chef Philip Speer, whose new restaurant Bonhomie would soon open; Paola Smith of Buenos Aires Cafe, who offered guests her delicious Argentine empanadas; and Nelly Garcia Caballero, co-founder of Rocheli Patisserie along with her mother and sister. The event was also a showcase for the culinary talents of  Hilton Executive Chef John Alan de Sousa, who presented a mouth watering paella.

Artwork by local artists was sold to benefit Austin’s MexicArte Museum, an organization dedicated to enriching and educating the community through promoting Latino art and culture. Its founder, Sylvia Orozco, was present along with the chefs and Andrea Richardson, Hilton’s Director of Multicultural Marketing.

Andrea Richardson and Dalia Smith


Buenos Aires Cafe

Rocheli Patisserie

Mambo Italiano

Imagine if your next family dinner at abuela’s house featured a main course of lasagna de chicharrón?  Barilla Pasta is combining imagination with good nutrition to promote a wholesome, balanced diet that combines the benefits of pasta with Latino flavors and traditions.

Barilla is the world’s leading pasta maker with 40-45% of the Italian market and 25% of the U.S. market, and produces pasta in more than 120 shapes and sizes. Based in Parma, Italy, the 140-year old company has enlisted the help of noted Latino chef Santiago Gomez and nutritionist Su-Nui Escobar to introduce the concept of Latino-Italian fusion into family recipes.  Both natives of Mexico sit on Barilla’s Pasta Advisory Council, and have developed creative tips and recipes that challenge cooking conventions while combining the health benefits of pasta with staples of cocina mexicana, such as jalapeños, nopales, beans and avocados.

Barilla presented developed the concept in late 2015 but brought it to life in 2016 at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival in Miami Beach. The positive response to the idea of combining the best of a Mediterranean diet – mainly plant-based foods, fruits, whole grains, legumes and nuts--with ingredients characteristic of Mexican cuisine encouraged the company to grow the program. The unique health benefits of pasta are supported by sound research.  Nutrition experts say that pasta is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, which provide a slow release of energy. It is very low in sodium and cholesterol-free. Enriched varieties are a good source of several essential nutrients, including iron and several B-vitamins, and are fortified with folic acid – important for women of child-bearing age.  Whole wheat pasta can provide up to 25% of daily fiber requirements in one cup.

As a group, Hispanic shoppers typically spend a greater percentage of their income on groceries than non-Hispanics, according to Nielsen. For many Hispanic consumers, meal preparation is all about sazón, and using seasonings to add personal touches to meals made from scratch. While Hispanics purchase products commonly associated with authentic Hispanic cuisine more frequently than other consumer groups, they index high on pantry items common to many consumers, including dry pasta.

Su-Nui Escobar is a Miami-based registered dietitian/nutritionist with a master’s degree in dietetics and  nutrition, and a bachelor’s in hotel, restaurant and tourism management.  She appears regularly on Spanish-language television programs to talk about healthy lifestyles and  understands that Hispanics seek a cultural connection at the grocery store.  She advocates changing the way Latinos think about food through culinary nutrition.   “At the end of the day, people eat food they like,” she said.  “By marrying pasta with Latin flavors and ingredients that contain high nutritional value we create dishes that are healthy and, in the right proportion, feed into a healthy diet.”

Escobar likes to cook with foods that remind her of home.  For example, garbanzos (chick peas) are a high-protein, high-fiber alternative to the cannellini beans in pasta fagioli.  Using avocado oil instead of olive oil, she said, provides the essential fatty acids of a healthy diet while adding more zest and flavor.  “Latina moms—even if they make a traditional pasta dish—they always want to add their own seasoning, like cilantro, to make it their own,” she said.

Chef Santiago Gómez, who worked at Nobu Mexico City and Daniel by renowned chef Daniel Boulud before opening the acclaimed Cantina la Veinte in Miami in 2014, helped Barilla create a recipe builder to show how Latino and Italian flavors can work together.  “We are helping Latinos open doors to experimenting with flavors,” he said. “Adding chipotle meatballs to linguine transforms the recipe into something from my grandmother’s kitchen.”

Gómez, a graduate of Mexico City’s prestigious Centro Culinario Ambrosia, wants Latino cooks to be fearless in the kitchen.  “Pasta is easy and fast to cook, and there are so many ways to vary it up that it can be great fun,” he said.  Among his favorite fusion dishes: linguini with chipotle meatballs. “People love it and ask for the recipe.”

Gómez recently opened a second Miami restaurant, a farm-to-taco concept called Tacology in Downtown’s Brickell City Center, which recently participated at a GUSTO event presented by LATINO Magazine in Miami.

By Rosemary Ravinal



1 box Barilla Linguine Blue Box

1 can chipotle

1 can tomato broth

1 can beef stock

250 ml olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste


For the meatballs:

1 pound lean ground beef

2 cups Manchego cheese (shredded)

2 eggs

Bread crumbs (¾ cup)

1 Garlic clove (chopped)

250 ml olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Cumin (1tsp)



1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil with a pinch of salt.

2. In a large skillet add 250 ml olive oil and fry the chipotles in medium heat.

3. Add the tomato puree, beef stock, salt and pepper and cover until boil. Reserve.

4. In a large bowl combine ground beef, salt, pepper, cumin, eggs, garlic clove and bread crumbs.

5. Mix with the hands until all the ingredients incorporate with the meat and make 16-18 small balls.

6. Cook the pasta as directed.

7. Take a large saucepan to medium heat with olive oil and fry each meatball until Golden color. Once all the meatballs are ready add them to the tomato broth.

8. Drain pasta, add to the meatball chipotle-tomato broth and serve with parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Linguine with Chipotle Meatballs

Servings: 8