Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica A. Chittenden

April 25, 2008

Local Foods Showcased at Pride of NY Dinner in Cuba

Cubans Wine and Dine on New York’s Finest

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker today announced the success of a Pride of New York dinner, featured as part of the State’s first agricultural trade mission to Cuba, April 21-23.  The Commissioner, along with 19 farmers, growers and New York State agricultural leaders, who specialize in dairy products, vegetables, apples, wine, and forestry products, hosted a group of 30 Cuban buyers with an agricultural feast consisting solely of New York State products.

“As part of the trade mission, it is customary to host dinner for the Cubans one night,” the Commissioner said.  “So instead of hosting a Cuban-made dinner at a local Havana restaurant, we organized a Pride of New York dinner that allowed the Cubans to not only meet our growers and producers, but to taste for themselves some of the finest products in New York State.”

The Pride of New York dinner was held in Havana, Cuba at the Palco Hotel.  Chef “A.J.” Jayapal of Voorheesville (Albany County) traveled with the State delegation to prepare the Pride of New York dinner.  Chef A.J. prepared for the Cubans a meal, starting with New York cheese and pork sausage served with local mustard and his own homemade chutney, along with New York champagne.  The main course included New York marinated beef tenderloin with whipped potatoes, a Schoharie Valley vegetable medley and onion soup.  For dessert, Chef A.J. served New York-style apple caramel cheesecake and wine ice cream.

During dinner, the guests were served a fine selection of New York State wines from Constellation Brands, headquartered in Fairport (Monroe County).  In addition to the dinner, the Cubans received a gift bag of New York apples, fruit juices, pancake mix, marinades, maple candy and maple syrup as gifts.  Wine samples from several New York wineries were provided through the New York Wine and Grape Foundation.

All of the products offered during the trade mission’s dinner and as gifts were sourced from local farmers and producers.  The following Pride of New York members provided product for the trade mission:

  • Mustard from Altamont Orchards in Altamont (Albany County)
  • Wine from Constellation Wines U.S. in Canandaigua (Ontario County); Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars (Seneca County); Swedish Hill Vineyards/Goose Watch Winery (Seneca County); Wolffer Estate (Suffolk County)
  • Cheesecake from J&S Watkins in Clifton Park (Saratoga County)
  • Maple Syrup from Mapleland Farms in Salem (Washington County)
  • Cheese from McCadam Cheese in Chateaugay (Chautauqua County)
  • Wine Ice Cream from Mercer’s Dairy in Boonville (Oneida County)
  • Marinade & Chutney from Miss Sydney’s Secret Family Recipe in Feura Bush (Albany County)
  • Onions from NY Bold, LLC in Fulton (Oswego County)
  • Pancake Mix from New Hope Mills in Auburn (Cayuga County)
  • Empire Apples from New York Apple Sales in Castleton (Rensselaer County)
  • Baseball Bats from Rawlings Sporting Goods Company in Dolgeville (Herkimer County)
  • Fruit Juices from Red Jacket Orchards in Geneva (Ontario County)
  • Beef Tenderloin from Rocky Point Farm in Aurora (Erie County)
  • Potatoes, Parsnips, Carrots, Rutabagas, Cabbage from Schoharie Valley Farms in Schoharie (Schoharie County)
  • Sausages from Troy Pork Store in Troy (Rensselaer County)
  • Cheese from Yancey’s Fancy in Corfu (Genesee County)

Chef A.J. is the Executive Chef at the Albany Country Club in Voorheesville (Albany County) and has worked at a variety of other prestigious New York restaurants.  He has received numerous awards at national and international competitions, and has had the privilege of working with internationally known chefs such as Wolfgang Puck, Jacques Pepin and Jasper White.

The Pride of New York is the State’s marketing and promotion program for New York State food and agricultural products.  The program assists farmers and food processors in branding their products by using the Pride of New York emblem, helping consumers identify high-quality, local agricultural products in local New York markets. 

The purpose of the trade mission was to open communications between New York producers and Cuban buyers in hopes of tapping into the more than $350 million the U.S. exports to Cuba annually.  Since 2003, the United States has been Cuba’s most important food and agricultural product supplier accounting for more than a quarter of the country’s total food and agricultural imports.

Since October 2000, U.S. companies have been allowed to sell agricultural, food and medical products to Cuba. Since that time, Cuba has purchased $2.7 billion worth of agriculture and food products from U.S. firms. More than 150 companies from more than 35 states have sold 300 different products to Cuba. Imported food is important to help nourish Cuba’s 11 million residents and an estimated 2 million tourists who visit the island each year.


2008 Press Releases