Lupita Estupinan takes MAJORITY ambassador, Aldrin Coto, on a journey back to her childhood, while making one of the most popular and traditional snacks in Cuban cuisine.
“The story begins,” Lupita euphorically recalls, when one day she and her daughter, Monica “Mika” Leon, a chef at Caja Caliente restaurant, went to a garage sale and found a replica of a vintage toaster that is used to make discos voladores, a buttery Cuban toasted bread sandwich.
“When I saw it, I told her, ‘Monica, I want to start making discos voladores at Caja Caliente,’” Lupita recalls. “We are going to have huge success because everyone in Cuba knows this.”
Between spreads of butter, slices of ham and cheese, and fried croquettes, Lupita and Coto share unforgettable memories of distant days. “When there were cyclones, we would go to our neighbor's house and the lady would make discos voladores for us,” Lupita says. “I remember how, as a child, my mother would also make discos for me as a snack for school,” Coto adds.
Fusion and innovation
As Lupita continues to put together a famous croquette sandwich, the entertaining conversation turns to what really sets Caja Caliente apart from competitors. The reason is that Monica, the renowned chef, has always had an innovative vision for her restaurant.
“Cuban tacos, that was her invention,” Lupita highlights, and it is that unique touch that sets Caja Caliente apart and attracts tourists and locals alike.
Trying to strike a balance between offering something fresh and innovative and evoking a sort of nostalgia that only comes with traditional recipes is the creative work that Monica and Lupita do on a daily basis.
Stories and achievements
In addition to all the success that Caja Caliente has with its exquisite dishes, discos voladores, in particular, have become something special.
“Since we started making discos voladores here, they have been a tremendous success,” Lupita explains. “We’ve had this feeling and, for me, it has an emotional meaning.”
But there is always a personal story behind everything.
“Once you started making them [the sandwiches], what would people say to you?”, Coto asks. Lupita remembers that people would share stories about discos voladores. “But the biggest story is that everyone would get burned,” Lupita exclaims with a laugh.
A story of success
This family’s success is partly due to their passion for cooking that goes back many generations. “I have always liked the kitchen. I have always loved cooking,” Lupita remarks. “My daughter seems to have inherited that as well.”
“I feel happy. I feel fulfilled to see how my daughter is also fulfilled with what she likes to do," Lupita shares.
“But your daughter wouldn’t have been able to do that if she hadn’t obviously had your support and the recipes from your kitchen,” Coto jokes.
“Of course,” Lupita replies with a laugh. “These are not chef things. These things are things that touch people’s heart,” Lupita says in regard to the recipes passed down from generation to generation.
After having taken a good bite of the croquette sandwich, Coto gives his verdict–delicious! And Lupita invites him “to visit us again.”
MAJORITY is celebrating the most outstanding Hispanics in 2021 during Hispanic Heritage Month. Discover the secret recipe for the croquette sandwiches that Lupita shared in the interview and follow us on social media for more inspirational stories.