“Vivi Noa (chef) started cooking in Havana, Cuba when she was just eight years old. She perfected cooking steak and rice under her own mother’s watchful eye before emigrating to the United States in the 1980’s where she worked as a banquet server at a hotel. Today Vivi is the mother of eight grown children, four boys and four girls, with thirteen grandchildren and another on the way.
Raising a large family forced Vivi to become economical and resourceful; she would combine birthday celebrations into one large bash to save both time and money. Reaping the benefits of circumstantial overlap allow Vivi’s strongest skill set to shine—large volume cooking. During these shared birthday celebrations, the Noa household would overflow with friends and family and Vivi would turn out an endless buffet of traditional Cuban fare. Dishes like Pollo Encebollado- onion smothered grilled chicken seasoned with chilies, orange juice and garlic-kept people coming back for more. Vivi’s food became a major draw at Noa family parties.”
Words by Melissa Elsmo from Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest