Envoy Hotel executive chef Tatiana Rosana is launching a new pop-up in the space of the hotel’s currently closed restaurant Outlook Kitchen. Para Maria will open on May 20 and run through the middle of September, and it will feature a menu packed with tacos, ceviche, quesadillas, elotes, and plenty of tequila.
Rosana named the restaurant after her grandmother, whose cooking she grew up eating in her hometown of Miami. “My grandmother is a big fan of ceviche,” says Rosana. “She makes it, eats it, and orders it whenever she can, so I had to put it on the menu.”
Indeed, much of the menu at Para Maria is inspired by the food Rosana, who is first-generation Cuban American, grew up eating. Take the mojo pork carnitas tacos, for example: The dish is based on a family recipe that always featured at their Nochebuena (which translates to “the good night” and takes place the night before Christmas) celebrations.
“We’d roast a whole pig over an open fire in the backyard of whoever was hosting, and my grandmother and grandfather would make giant batches of mojo sauce,” says Rosana. “Every family has their own recipe, and they handed theirs down to me and my cousins. I have such great memories of roasting a pig over an open flame and basting it with that mojo sauce. I wanted to have it on the menu because it’s so nostalgic for me.”
If the food is inspired by her family traditions, so too is the impetus to open a pop-up focused on small plates meant for sharing. Rosana says that the lack of interaction with family and friends in the last year sparked the idea. She was thinking about spending time with loved ones, cooking together and sharing a meal. “So I continued along that avenue of wanting to make a restaurant that made it feel like you were with family,” she says.
Rosana moved to Boston after graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in Orlando. Her first restaurant kitchen job was at Harvest in Harvard Square. (She credits Mary Dumont, formerly Harvest’s longtime executive chef, with helping her find her voice and identity as a chef.) She later worked at the Mandarin Oriental, where she learned the difference between working in a standalone restaurant and working in a restaurant that operated inside a hotel, a lesson that has come in handy in her time as executive chef at Envoy. She’s competed on Chopped (four times!), and she’s gone toe to toe with Bobby Flay. (She didn’t win, but no one ever does because that show is rigged!)
Now, after an immeasurably difficult 15 months for everyone in the restaurant industry, she’s ready to try her hand at something new.