WEST HARTFORD — Peruvian restaurant Coracora received an award for its role as a “gastronomical ambassador” from Consul General of Peru in Hartford Elvis Tuesta Tuesday morning.
“We consider Coracora restaurant an ambassador of Peruvian food,” he said. “It is a sign of optimism of the Peruvian community in the state of Connecticut.”
Coracora was announced as a finalist for the “Outstanding Restaurant” award given by the prestigious James Beard foundation in late March, the first Connecticut restaurant to make the list in 17 years.
Winners will be celebrated at an awards ceremony in Chicago in June, but the restaurant also received a slew of congratulations from Gov. Ned Lamont, West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor, State Rep. James Sánchez (D-Hartford and West Hartford), the Connecticut Restaurant Association and Commissioner Alexandra Daum of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development on Tuesday.
“I'm so proud of what this [nomination] says about the state of Connecticut,” Lamont said. “We have to welcome all in our state. I think that's what makes the state of Connecticut so special and [Coracora’s] food just emphasizes that.”
First generation owners Hector Ludena and Luisa Jiménez opened the restaurant in 2011 at a former McDonald’s and named it after their hometown of Coracora, Peru. The restaurant has since passed to new management under their daughters Grecia and Macarena Ludena.
Grecia Ludena explained that the restaurant’s brand is Peruvian comfort food, so they try to bring dishes that feel like home such as the pasta dish tallarines rojos or the roast chicken dish known as pollo a la brasa.
“It's an honor for our community to be able to represent our Peruvian heritage here in the United States of America. We feel good about representing both sides of our heritage,” said Grecia Ludena. “When Peruvian people come to the restaurant, when they try that food, they will literally say ‘I feel like I’m at home.’”
Coracora’s role as a “gastronomical ambassador” to West Hartford is part of a global initiative created by Brand Peru in 2011. Brand Peru was created by the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism of Peru and partners with Peruvian companies to promote Peruvian products, including the world-famous Peruvian cuisine.
Although Brand Peru has so far been unsuccessful in having Peruvian cuisine declared as humanity’s intangible cultural heritage by the UNESCO, it has raised awareness of Peruvian cuisine on an international level.
Coracora is listed on the “Restaurants of the World” website by Brand Peru, which lists the most important Peruvian restaurants that represent the nation’s rich culinary history. This culinary history lives on in the cooking of chef and owner Macarena Ludena, who said she brings her heritage to the table.
“Representing the culture and showing that, with passion, a dish can remind you of where you’re from,” she said in Spanish. “Here in Coracora, we want to offer you that: a little bit of our country, a little bit of our culture.”
Latino Communities Reporter Lau Guzmán is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. Support RFA reporters at the Record-Journal through a donation at https://bit.ly/3Pdb0re, To learn more about RFA, visit www.reportforamerica.org.