Contact: [email protected]
  • Bar(b)acoa OMI (2017) - Bar(b)acoa is a land art installation that evokes the moment of contact between Christopher Columbus’ expedition and the indigenous Taino people at Baracoa, Cuba. This encounter set off what is known as the Columbian Exchange, where the European and Mesoamerican food complexes began to interact, with the Europeans leaving behind pigs and bringing food crops, while […]
  • Pambamesa, Ecuador (2017) - Ecuador is marked by a legacy of colonization, arcane land use and inheritance laws that together have resulted in the displacement of many indigenous people from their land, while also at times resulting in poor soil management and depletion. The resulting anemia, and geographical and cultural dislocation are entwined. This project will seek to raise […]
  • Bus Fare, Flint, Michigan (Fall 2016) - View the project here. The focus of this project is to create a mobile restaurant in the body of a used Chevy bus. Not to be confused with a food truck, this bus is literally a vehicle for ‘farm-to-table’ dining. It will promote and celebrate the local assets of Flint and Michigan from its automotive talent pool […]
  • Projet Maquis, Dakar (2015, with chef Pierre Thiam) - Projet Maquis is a socially engaged art installation that will work with a community of underground restaurants known as maquis to foster cultural exchange, education and job skills in Dakar. Projet Maquis will highlight the complexities of the ad hoc food distribution system in Senegal. The artist will collaboratively customize a number of the single-axle […]
  • This Ain’t Havana (2014) - Queens,  New York  2014 Craig Shillitto with Yoandy Rizo Fiallo and Osmany Abel García Fuentes This project was a dinner for 300-400 participants structured around a barbecue, providing the opportunity for a casual conviviality common to a surprising range of cultures. Bringing together Queens pit and grill masters from an array of Latin American barbeque traditions, […]
  • MOFAD, Pop Up Travelling Cereal Puff Machine (2013) - This project involved working with MOFAD to create a visually dynamic display of the ‘puffing gun,’  an early twentieth century device that revolutionized food production by puffing rice and wheat, which changed the American breakfast landscape forever.


Who We Are. Get To Know Us Better.

One Hundred Seconds: Proyecto Paladar from cycleprojects on Vimeo.

Proyecto Paladar Stage 1: Construction from cycleprojects on Vimeo.

Proyecto Paladar: What Is A Paladar? from cycleprojects on Vimeo.

Proyecto Paladar* was an artistic experiment in cultural diplomacy designed for the 11th Havana Biennial in May 2012. Artist/architect Craig Shillitto bridged the cultural and political divide separating U.S. and Cuban citizens, bringing U.S.-based chefs to Havana to pair with paladar* chefs to create ten unique meals over ten days. The locals showed the visiting chefs how to ferret out the best food available—sometimes from legally dubious sources. The U.S.-based chefs engaged with their Cuban counterparts in a culinary exchange. For three days, each pair planned their menus as the Cuban chefs would, going to markets, farms, and marinas to negotiate for ingredients. The project’s impetus arose during a conversation between gallerist Alberto Magnan and Shillitto, and was conceived in response to the Biennial’s theme, “Artistic Practice and Social Imageries.”

The project’s structure was comprised of five shipping containers. Defying the challenges of staging an ambitious artistic intervention in a place where building materials and fine ingredients are scarce but bureaucracy is abundant, the team succeeded in building and running a pop-up restaurant and art project that served inventive dishes to over 800 Cubans and foreign visitors at the Wifredo Lam Center for Contemporary Art. Two seating areas flanking the kitchen were arranged to serve twelve diners at a time, where one side of each table seated foreign visitors to the Biennial, and the other side was reserved for locals.

Though it ran for only ten days, the project’s realization was an odyssey with as many obstacles and detours as Odysseus’s own, as the team navigated the murky waters of U.S. legal hurdles and the challenges of working in a country with scant resources. Although this alone would make a good story, Cuba itself tells the real tale, with its fascinating history, checkered culinary traditions, bewildering distribution system, and astonishing way of getting by under impossible circumstances.

*The word paladar (plural: paladares) means palate in both Spanish and Portuguese, and was also the name of a restaurant in the Brazilian soap opera “Vale Todo” (“Anything Goes”), popular in Cuba. Cubans originally used the term for family-run restaurants that used residential kitchens in private homes. Paladares originated in 1994 during the ‘special period’, when the Soviet Union’s collapse led to the withdrawal of subsidies and supplies. These informal eateries arose out of necessity, outside the bounds of the law, as families struggled to make ends meet. They served tourists seeking a vivid interaction with Cuban reality, and looking for homestyle food. Though the laws regulating their structure (number of seats, permissible menu items, etc.) have changed and enforcement has been sporadic, restrictions have eased over time. The original paladar law, on which the project is based, called for all employees to be part of the household and no more than twelve seats for diners.


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Artist: Craig Shillitto
Curator: Elizabeth Grady
Presented by: Alberto Magnan
Chef Director: Sara Jenkins
Chef Liaison: Sidra Durst

Design Team

Sidra Durst
Carmen Fanzone
Anjuli Nanda
Sasha Noe
Craig Shillitto
Front of House Team in Havana

Sidra Durst
Elizabeth Grady
Cynthia Rojas
Micah Shapiro
Zach Shapiro
Joseph Ciriello
Jenny Ingram
Construction Team

Todd Bonne
Carmen Fanzone
Sasha Noe
Luis Santana
Craig Shillitto

New York Chefs

Marco Canora, Hearth *and Terroir*
Sara Jenkins, Porsena and Porchetta
Mark Ladner, Del Posto
Anita Lo, Annisa
Sisha Ortúzar, Riverpark and ‘wichcraft
Tamara Reynolds, Sunday Night Dinners
Douglas Rodriguez, Alma de Cuba and De Rodriguez Cuba on Ocean
Pierre Thiam, Dakar
Eduardo Vallelobo, Del Posto
Havana Chefs

Liuyen Alvarez Gallego, Atelier
Dayron Ávila, Café Laurent
Leonardo Bustillos and Maribel Horta, Vista Mar
Osmany Diaz Rios, La Galería
Jorge Fernandez Fuentes, Rio Mar (currently La Dulce Vida)
Hector Higuera and Osmany Cisnero, Le Chansonnier
Edgar Samuel Loyola Fonseca, Sinfonía Roll
Manolo Norbelís Arceo, La Esperanza
Enrique Nuñez, La Guarida
Ariel Rodríguez Sánchez, Conde del Castillo

Organizations who lent assistance include Art Table, Academic Arrangements Abroad, American Friends of the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, SITE Santa Fe, and Talk Cinema. Artspire, a Program of NYFA, receives special thanks for fiscally sponsoring the project.

The Brownstone Family Foundation
Myriam Castillo
Steve and Joann Durst
The Jateska Foundation
Kathleen O’Grady
Ronald Pizzuti
The Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation
Nicolas O’Connell
Breville appliances
Havana Club rum
La Colombe Coffee
Y + B Wines
Dirty Bird to-go
Photography By:

Todd Bonne
Sidra Durst
Zachary Shapiro
Craig Shillitto
Stanton Storer
Jake Tilson

Projecto Paladar was a Paladar Group Project.



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For sale now on Amazon. Funds from book sales will go towards future projects with The Paladar Group.
10 Dinners in Havana is a richly textured documentation of Proyecto Paladar featuring twenty recipes cooked by paired chefs in Havana, half from American chefs and half from Cuban chefs. Lavishly illustrated with hundreds of photographs of the city of Havana, its urban farms, organic agriculture, vibrant markets, and lively streets, it portrays the chefs and diners in action. Authored by artist/architect Craig Shillitto and curator Elizabeth M. Grady, this artist-book-cum-cookbook illuminates Proyecto Paladar and the culinary, social, and political issues it raised. The book is designed by artist, designer, writer, and cook Jake Tilson. Contributing authors include former NPR senior foreign editor Loren B. Jenkins, art critic and writer for the Village Voice, Art News and more Christian Viveros-Fauné, Havana organic farm president Miguel Angel Salcines and his daughter Isis Salcines, Director of the 11th Bienal de la Habana and Director of the Centro de Arte Contemporaneo Wifredo Lam Jorge Fernandez-Torres, writer/curator Christian Viveros-Fauné. Great for amateur chefs and Cuba enthusiasts alike, 10 Dinners in Havana will excite the minds and palates of everyone from adventurous travelers to organic gardeners. Proyecto Paladar offers inspiration to anyone who believes that creating community through food can be the first step toward cultural diplomacy and political change. Part gonzo architecture and part improvised farm-to-table meals, there is no more thrilling way to view Cuba than through the lens of this culinary and artistic collaboration.