We had the good fortune of connecting with Christina Gomez-Pina and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christina, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
This is an interesting question, given that I’ve been pretty dormant in my efforts for the last five years. What started off as a full-blown, dive right in and give it your all project in 2009 went strong and steady for a good while. When my father was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2015, everything not related to him and his health took a back seat. He passed away within a few months and it’s been difficult to find my mojo around the project again, especially since he and my mom were always present for each recipe in one way or another.
Traveling with my husband and kids, spending time with my mom and focusing on her health, seeing the rest of the family as much as possible – as well as a fully functional and demanding professional life have forced me to ask myself this question over and over again … give up, or keep going?
My answer: keep going. In whatever way that takes shape. I know very deeply that the very best plans get wiped away overnight and I don’t take that for granted. So, in the theme of a common Cuban saying, “Crea fama y acuestate a dormir”, the run I had at the start of the project – with local and national recognition, being an early blogger and creating solid virtual friendships is just what that part of my life was supposed to accomplish.
And now, I keep going with open eyes and an open mind. Whatever comes along for La Cocina de Christina is a good opportunity. After all, mi cocina is always open. My kids and their friends call on me to cook and help with recipes and food conversations naturally. They take pride in my cooking and show me off to their friends. That’s what I was going for when I started La Cocina de Christina. Nothing more, nothing less. And that, I know I achieved. My kids wouldn’t dream of ordering picadillo at a restaurant and my croquetas leave many ventanitas in the dust.
Mission accomplished. Bring on the next chapter.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My professional career has always been focused around marketing, communications and brand experience. The highlight of creating La Cocina de Christina was the ability to use my professional experiences in a personal way. For La Cocina, it’s all about storytelling. Bringing the smells of a reader’s childhood kitchen alive is what my goal has always been and I feel blessed to be able to bring it all together with my varied talents.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If anyone comes to me, all my recommendations focus around food. I try to talk through the options with Miami institutions, local chefs, local restauranteurs and ambiance is a must.
My must do list usually includes:
– Versailles ventanita, along with the stories of parades, protests and politics
– Anything outdoors, weather permitting – Glass & Vine at sunset, Monty’s in the Grove for an afternoon lunch or appetizers and a drink, Smith & Wollensky or Joe’s for the touristy feel
– Something trendy that just opened or made an Eater’s recent list or Burger Beast recommendation – local chefs like Giorgio Rapicavoli, Finka’s Eileen Andrade, Abi Maria’s Jorgie Ramos – to name a few. Oh yeah, and anything Kush-related. Any of their locations.
My recos are more mom of teens-ish, since that’s the stage we are at. Something casual, with a reservation option as much as possible, and Insta-worthy. That’s my barometer at this stage in the game.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband gets the biggest shoutout – encouragement, enablement and test tasting. Regardless of how off the wall my ideas are, Alex listens, supports and tweaks for better outcome, as needed. My parents were both part of the project in the early days and they served as both cheerleaders and babysitters since the kids were little. They were always by my side on the journey. My mom continues to be a huge supporter and beams with pride anytime she gets a chance to.
My kids, cousins, our close friends and their kids win the award for best sports – Cesos (pig brains) in North Carolina? Sure, they said. Eat dinner at midnight because that Puerco Asado Relleno (stuffed pork shoulder) is still raw? No problem, keep cooking, as they opened another bottle of wine.
And, to my grandparents and my husband’s family that always had food smell in their homes. That smell means that someone is cooking for you. And, if you smell like food, that means someone loves you. I thank them for instilling that foundation in me, and in my children.
Al Diaz Christina Gomez-Pina