Chef/Owner, John Connell-Maribona
Cuban-American chef John Connell-Maribona attributes his early love for food to four women in his family, his grandmother Ninfa Martin-Maribona, mother Ivonne, aunt Chunchi and godmother Zurina Rioseco. It was their Cuban cooking that attracted John to the kitchen as a youngster.
John’s professional career began at godmother Zurina’s “Las Delicias” restaurant in 1983. Since then, he has held chef and pastry chef positions in some of the area’s top restaurants, bakeries and hotels, bringing over 27 years of experience to Pambiche’s kitchen.
What does Pambiche mean?
Pambiche, a lingual bastardization of the words Palm Beach as pronounced by a native speaker of Cuban Spanish. Why Palm Beach? Palm Beach is not just a famous resort town in southeastern Florida, located on an island off the coast. Beyond that, the literal words “palm” “beach” conjure images of a tropical beach lined with swaying palm trees, a romantic island getaway, escaping the stresses of life, slowing down, kicking back, sharing a comfortable meal with a gentle breeze and the lively pulse of Cuban rhythms. So, when you can’t get away for a Caribbean vacation you can at least get down to Pambiche for an authentic taste of Old Havana, sip on a mojito in our landmark patio, feel the rumba, son and cha-cha-cha and experience genuine Cuban hospitality!
“Palm Beach” May Be In The Name,
But We’re Not Like Miami!
We often hear the comment that Pambiche is not like the typical Cuban restaurants found throughout Southern Florida in communities such as Westchester, Hialeah or Miami. Sometimes the comment is made in disappointment and sometimes it’s inspirational. Regardless, the fact remains that Pambiche is not your typical Miami-Styled Cuban eatery, it was never our intention. Pambiche’s purpose is to nourish our community with homemade Cuban food, utilizing fresh, quality ingredients and traditional Cuban recipes that have been in the Maribona Family since the days of Martí.
Cuba is an island of contrasts and contradictions. A paradise of unequaled natural beauty coupled with an architectural landscape that makes it a magical place. It is also a cultural melting pot. Most Cuban people can trace their ancestry to Spanish settlers, African slaves and/or island natives, and as a result, Cuban people are a rough mix of these three cultures, a dynamic and complex people that are generally characterized as warm-hearted, hospitable, lively and expressive. This can be seen in many aspects of the culture from music, art and politics to literature, cuisine, religion and sport.
One of the world’s last bastions of communism, the largest of the Caribbean islands is also its least commercial and it stands apart with a colored history mared by revolution, comandantes, embargos, rationing, decay and stagnation. Change is inevitable, it is only a question of how and when.
The capital city of La Habana, with her streets of collapsing grandeur cruised by big-finned American cars and big-hearted locals, is truly one of the world’s most picturesque metropolis. La Habana Vieja, the old city, is a UNESCO-declared World Heritage Site and is a junction of crumbling magnificence and restored beauty.
La Inspiración de Pambiche
I attribute my early love for food to four Cuban women in my family, my grandmother Ninfa, my mother Ivonne, my aunt Chunchi and my godmother Zurina. All of these women are great cooks in their own right and have inspired me in different ways at different times in my life. It was their Cuban cooking that attracted me to the kitchen as a youngster.
While living with my grandmother, Ninfa, as a young adolescent I began to take interest in the kitchen and learn in more depth, the basics of Cuban cookery. Honestly, I didn’t have much choice, Ninfa put me to peeling and crushing garlic, chopping onions and peppers for the sofrito, she taught me the ways of the pressure cooker, the exact method for perfect white rice and essential Cuban recipes such as frijoles negros, picadillo, yuca con mojo, ropa vieja, patas con garbanzos, lengua en salsa, etc. My grandmother (Abuela in Spanish) always encouraged me to learn to cook for myself in preparation for my voyage out into the world. She would stress the importance of nourishment, balanced meals and good cooking for good health. She was a harsh critic of American fast food culture and would simply not allow me, her grandson, to enter manhood unable to cook for himself.
Her frequent Cuban feasts were a way for her to gather friends and family and hold on to her beloved Cuban culture and its traditions, not an easy task in the Portland, Oregon of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s! Gathered around her kitchen table with the aroma of fresh café cubano permeating the room, she would tell stories of life in Cuba, the family still on the island and her hope that one day it (the island nation of Cuba) would be free. She was our medium, our raconteur and our teacher of Cuban tradition. She instilled in me the idea of keeping these traditions alive and not allowing them to melt away, lost to future generations.
Homage to my Abuela Ninfa
This homage to my Abuela Ninfa is relevant to Pambiche as she is the single most important influence to its inspiration, without her, Pambiche would simply not exist. Her persistence with her teachings paid off, Pambiche promises to uphold the Cuban traditions, brought to Oregon by our matriarch, so that future generations can continue to enjoy all that she has to offer.
Thank you Abuela for all of your sacrifices, hard work and dedication to us, and for preserving Cuban culture in our family and giving us a strong sense of identity. Abuelita, no existen las palabras para expresar lo mucho que significas en mi vida. Gracias por siempre hacerme sentir tan especial y muy querido.
Born: MARIA NINFA ANDREA MARTIN Y HERNANDEZ
February 4th, 1918, at 5 am at home in Mariano, La Habana, Cuba
The 4th child of Cela Hernandez y Hernandez and Oscar Martin y Cruz
Education: San Francisco de Salle up to 8th grade.
Married: June 14, 1941 to Francisco Luis Jose Rodriquez Maribona y Cuervo
Ivonne Maria Maribona Connell
Eduardo Oscar Maribona (deceased 1962 in auto accident)
Maria Ninfa Maribona
14 Grand Children
14 Great-Grand Children
Moved to Portland, Oregon in 1955, due to spouse’s job as Cuban Consul. She was 37 years old with children aged 13, 12, 7, 2 and 7 months when she arrived in a snow covered Portland in December of 1955.
Divorced: April 1, 1959
Became U.S.A. citizen in April of 1984 – Ninfa was very proud of this and of the United States as a symbol of liberty.
Died: February 15, 2011, age 93
Very religious her deep faith in God and bond with Mary as “Hija de Maria”, was her source of strength throughout her life.
Loved her family-A true matriarch.