Fernando Navarrete grew up watching his dad prepare Cuban delicacies such as peppers stuffed with picadillo and rice. He enjoyed helping, but never thought he’d go into the culinary field. A career in the Navy was his future, thought the Miami native with a Cuban/Colombian heritage.
However, Navarrete’s life was to change dramatically when an injury during military service forced the amputation of his foot. When a friend suggested Navarrete join him in culinary school, all those hours watching his father cook flooded back to him. Cooking was a passion the whole family shared. Cooking would lead the way.
It was in culinary school that Navarrete found not just a career, but a life partner, for during his stint at the Florida Culinary Institute, he met wife-to-be, Melissa, who was studying for a law degree.
“From the moment we met, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her,” said Navarrete.
After culinary school, Navarrete continued his education with a dietetic technician degree from Palm Beach Community College and Melissa earned her law degree from Ohio Northern University. He honed his skills in every corner of the food industry, from hospitals to top-of-the-line resorts.
“I spent 15 years in every aspect of the industry,” said Navarrete.
Housed in Key West style cottage with an open kitchen, So So Good Cottage Café offers eclectic fare such as the Rude Cuban sandwich.
What, you may ask, is a Rude Cuban?
Take a traditional media noche sandwich and add sweet jalapeno relish and you’ve got a dish with a kick.
“It will wake you up,” promised Navarrete, who prides himself on an eclectic, homey cooking style.
The Crueben sandwich, another of Navarrete’s signature items, is a blend of a Cuban and Reuben, with corned beef, roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, Thousand Island dressing and Navarrete’s original slaw, served on pressed German rye bread.
So Good Cottage Café is located at 902 Florida Ave. in Cocoa Village. For more information, call 321-631-2030. You can view the menu at http://openmenu.com/search/restaurant.php?omf=4c6bdcaa-f08e-11e0-80ac-00163eeae34c or check out facebook.com/sogoodcottagecafe.
The café is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and for dinner from 5 to 8 p.m. on Fridays.
From 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 15, So Good Cottage Café will host a wine tasting to raise funds for the American Cancer Society. The event includes raffles and giveaways. Chips and dip will be complimentary and sandwiches and wraps will be available for purchase. Cost is $15 per person.
By María Sonnenberg
For Al Día Today