Who: Ingrid Hoffmann, cookbook author and television host of Simply Delicioso and Top Chef Estrellas
Where: Miami, Florida
On television, Ingrid Hoffmann comes across as warm and energetic, with a real zest for mindful living and eating. In person, the host of Food Network's Simply Delicioso is just the same: an enthusiastic consumer of all that life and food have to offer. And the Latin chef's home is, likewise, every bit as vibrant as you'd expect — maybe even more so, thanks to the mega art installation adorning her dining room wall.
Bold, red letters by South African artist Brett Murray read: OPRAH SAYS LIVE LIFE DELICIOUSLY. It's a mantra she has always lived by and it fuels her passion for healthy cooking and food policy. As someone battling Lupus, Ingrid saw how changing her own diet improved her health. Now she's on a mission to help others learn how to eat better on the cheap.
A Visit with Ingrid Hoffmann & Her Kitchen
Born in Barranquilla, Colombia, Ingrid has lived in Miami for 27 years, and in her Brickell condo for the last 15. She's renovated her home twice and the current incarnation of her kitchen is fresh and inviting — with soft gray walls, warm wood drawers, and sleek white cabinetry.
Her collection of cheerful Alessi accessories and kitchen tools lines the marble countertop, and fun multicolored rugs decorate the floor. In one corner sits a dainty writing desk with views of Miami through floor-to-ceiling windows; it's a perch for family photos and a place where she can sit when she's testing recipes to jot down any yummy notes she'll want to remember.
Let's start with that Oprah sign. What's the story there?
I'm always saying to live a delicious life in everything you do. So when my friend saw this piece at Art Basel Miami Beach, she called me and said if anyone should have this, it's you! I bought it immediately.
When you walk into your kitchen, what makes you really happy?
The view and light for inspiration, and I love my spice drawer and cabinet! I created my line of spices, Cocina by Ingrid Hoffmann, to recreate the backbone of the Latin kitchen: bouillon and adobo seasonings. Both of these generally are filled with not-good-for-you ingredients and my idea was to have these great flavors but done with all-natural ingredients that are good for you.
The flavors are the Todo Adobo (all-in-one seasoning mix); Chimichurri blend, which is great for meats as well as dressings and basically is the dehydrated version of the classic Latin sauce; and the Fajita Citrus blend, which is self-explanatory.
Do you have a favorite piece of art in your kitchen?
I have a few: My grandmother's crystal candy dish that I fill with Maria's cookies just like she did, my cover for Ladies' Home Journal, and two Colombian photographs by Felipe Cuevas of Palenqueras, which are the traditional ladies you see on the street carrying trays of fresh fruit on their heads.
There are also my favorite cookbooks and whimsical kitchen gadgets by Alessi, and a cartoon of me as a pink M&M that the Mars M&Ms candy company gave me in honor of my campaign with them.
What do you love to cook in your kitchen?
Everything except fried foods! The last thing I made was a healthy shrimp chowder for my upcoming book.
Say more about your healthy cooking philosophy.
I am passionate about food policy and helping people eat better on the cheap. I believe that we are what we eat and eating bad food is what is making us sick. Investing in eating better will save your health and spending on prescriptions and doctors. I am a testament to this as a Lupus patient who lives an active, productive, healthy life and does not take medications at all anymore. I was able to do this by changing my diet — I had been sick for years prior to this.
But I want people to eat how they're used to eating and stay true to their culture. Let's say you're Cuban and you're used to eating fried plantains. Well, I suggest roasting them to get them crispy instead of frying them.
If people are not used to eating veggies, it's not realistic to tell them to only eat salads, or maybe someone can't afford to go from pancakes and waffles to green juice. Add whole wheat and chia seeds or oats. Reduce half of the mayo in your coleslaw and use Greek yogurt instead. Use vinegars instead of creams. Those little changes will eventually add up.
Ingrid's 5 Best Bites
We asked Ingrid to dish on a few of her favorite places to get a taste for the Latin flavor of Miami and all of its diversity. Here's what she had to say.
- The ceviche at Salmon Salmon. The quality of fish and the simplicity of flavors make it perfect.
- The pan de yuca at La Estacion Café because they are decadent, gooey, soft and taste amazing.
- The anticuchos at La Mar by Gaston Acurio at the Mandarin Oriental Miami. They use top-grade ingredients and are perfectly balanced, which is easy to miss with anticuchos.
- Cuban vaca frita at Versailles, a Miami landmark.
- And of course, for dessert, Azucar Ice Cream Company for the coconut flan ice cream.
Thank you for the visit, Ingrid! Look out for her newest cookbook to be published in 2018, and stay tuned for her line of spices, Cocina by Ingrid Hoffmann, to be available at retail locations and on her website soon. Her Food Network show, Simply Delicioso, airs on the Direct TV Mundos channel in Latin America, and Top Chef Estrellas for Telemundo is currently on hiatus.