By: Phillippe Diederich
A Cuban-American travels to Havana searching for a secret recipe where he finds love and the truth about his father.


A Cuban-American travels to Havana searching for a secret recipe where he finds love and the truth about his father.

Frank Delgado is no thief. He co-owns a failing Cuban restaurant in Manhattan's Upper East Side. The restaurant, like Frank, is rudderless. Lost. He decides he'll save the restaurant by traveling to Cuba to steal the legendary chicken recipe from the famed El Ajillo restaurant in Havana. The recipe is a state secret, so prized that no cook knows the whole recipe. But Frank's rationale is ironclad —Fidel stole the secret from his family, so he will steal it back. He will triumphantly bring that recipe back to Manhattan and turn his fortunes around. Frank has no interest in Cuba. His parents fled after the Revolution. His dead father spent his life erasing all traces of Cuba from his heart with barbeques, television, lawn mowing and alcohol. So Frank is not prepared for the real Cuba. Sure, he gets beat up and almost killed, the secret service threatens him, but in the midst of the chaos, he falls in love with a prostitute and the city, and he unwraps the heroic story of his parents' life. Cuba begins to bind Frank together, the way a good sofrito binds the flavors of a Cuban dish.

Phillippe Diederich is a Haitian American writer and photojournalist raised in Mexico City and Miami, Florida. The dictator Papa Doc kicked his parents out of Haiti in the 1960s. Phillippe grew up listening to stories of nostalgia, revolution, and exile. His friends were the sons and daughters of parents who had fled oppressive regimes throughout Latin America.

Awards and Accomodations

2015 L.A. Times List: 23 Best Novels for Summer Reading

8 reviews for Sofrito

  1. Book Riot
    Frank Delgado’s parents fled Cuba after the Revolution, so when Frank has to make an unexpected trip to his parents’ homeland, he’s not really prepared. What brings him to Cuba? Oh, no biggie — just stealing a recipe that is a closely guarded state secret …

  2. Tampa Bay Times
    Just before Cuba busts open and its complicated essence is diluted by un montón de turistas, Phillippe Diederich’s debut novel gives us an immersion complete with sights, sounds and — maybe most importantly — tastes. Food and travel go together, both with the power to edify, transport and even haunt. ‘Sofrito’ does all three. —Laura Reiley

  3. Latinopia
    The language, nuance and settings ring true and give insight into a world not known by many Americans. Using the metaphor of the sauce essential to all Cuban cooking, Frank Delgado’s journey is a search of his personal sofrito, the personal foundation needed to understand his life and identity as a Cuban American. –Jesus Salvador Trevino

  4. Midwest Book Review
    Exceptionally well-written and all the more impressive considering that “Sofrito” is Haitian American writer and photojournalist Phillipe Diederich’s debut as a novelist. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library general fiction collections …

  5. Mark Kurlansky, author of Salt: A World History and Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World
    Sofrito has the sweaty seduction of Havana’s streets and the warm spirit of its food.

  6. Cristina Garcia, author of Dreaming in Cuban and King of Cuba
    There is more than delicious chicken at stake here. Food is the road home—geographically, emotionally, metaphorically. Peppered with cooking advice from chefs, ordinary folks, and celebrities including Fidel Castro himself (an advocate of pork), Phillipe Diederich’s Sofrito is a love letter to the deepest recesses of nostalgia’s heart.

  7. Ernesto Quiñones, author of Bodega Dreams and Chango’s Fire
    A moveable feast full of folkloric flavors, comical rhythms and magic. One man’s quest for the perfect spice leads him towards love for a woman and for his lost Cuba. In heaven, I know Oscar Hijuelos is smiling.

  8. US News
    US News Invites You to “Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month on a Budget” by reading “Sofrito.” —Karen Cordaway

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