Maricel Presilla is a culinary historian specializing in the foods of Latin America and Spain. She holds a doctorate in medieval Spanish history from New York University and has received formal training in cultural anthropology.
Dr. Presilla has done considerable research on Latin American agriculture – with special emphasis on tropical crops, cacao and vanilla agriculture, and chocolate production. She is the president of Gran Cacao Company a Latin American food research and marketing company that specializes in the sale of premium cacao beans from Latin America. Her latest book is The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History of Chocolate with Recipes (Ten Speed Press, 2001 and 2009, second edition). She has completed a comprehensive Latin American cookbook Gran Cocina Latina for W.W. Norton (forthcoming October 2012) and has contributed featured stories with recipes for Saveur, Food & Wine, Food Arts, and Gourmet.
She writes a food column for the Miami Herald (Cocina) and is as comfortable sailing down the Orinoco to collect recipes in the field as she is cooking at Zafra and Cucharamama, her pan-Latin restaurants in Hoboken, New Jersey. In 2010, she opened Ultramarinos, a gourmet Latin American market, bakery, chocolate shop, and cooking atelier, also in Hoboken. She is the first Latin American woman to have cooked as a guest chef at the White house and the first Latin woman to have won the James Award for Best-Chef Mid-Atlantic in 2012.