I bet that you couldn't resist and had to find out who's behind all this. Here we tell you that and other things you may not have wanted to know. Meet us:
Clara Gonzalez (Aunt Clara)
Cooking enthusiast, Dominican food lover, and full-time Internet junkie, Aunt Clara was not really anyone's aunt at the time this all started, but she needed a catchy nom de plume for a website about cooking. After quite the zigzagging run through the corporate mill --which started in Industrial Design and ended in International Commerce-- she has spent nearly two decades doing what she loves: photographing food and writing about it on this blog.
Clara is Dominican --born and bred-- and learned how to cook at the side of a long line of Dominican home cooks. She has lived in several regions of the Dominican Republic and is currently based in Punta Cana, D.R. She frequently travels around the country, researching, documenting, writing about, and tasting what the Dominican cuisine has to offer. Clara is also a wife and mom.
Clara is co-author of the book Yo Cocino Latino (Grijalbo, 2021), and -with Ilana- Clara has authored two books on Dominican cooking (both currently out of print): Traditional Dominican Cookery, and Aunt Clara's Dominican Recipes. A new Dominican cookbook is in the works. You can see Clara's photography portfolio here. Or enjoy her recipes and photos here.
Ilana Benady (Aunt Ilana)
Originally from Gibraltar, Aunt Ilana studied and lived in England for the best part of two decades, mostly managing to avoid the local cuisine.
After graduating in Politics and Social Anthropology from the University of Kent at Canterbury, she tried her hand at journalism and travel, finally finding a niche of sorts in international development. Her work at Oxfam's HQ in Oxford took her to more countries than she could have dared to dream of, including the Dominican Republic which she first visited in 1996.
She settled here in 1999, married Dominican photographer Pedro Guzmán, and they now live in Punta Cana with their son Lucas. More than 20 years later she is still struggling to master the art of cooking rice Dominican-style.
Besides our cookbooks, Ilana has also authored Expat FAQs: Moving to and Living in the Dominican Republic and Dominican Republic - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture.
DominicanCooking.com, and twin blog CocinaDominicana.com were founded in 2001 by Clara. Ilana joined-in in 2004 as a writer and copyeditor for the English version.
In 2005 we published our first cookbook, and in 2007 launched a new edition.
In 2017 we adopted the byname @SimpleByClara to simplify our presence on social media.
The present is the 11th redesign of our site.
Awards and accolades
In 2005 our site was nominated to the Arroba de Oro Award for the best Dominican website in the category of Art and Culture. The following year, we won this award.
Some mentions in the press
Design, concept, content, recipes, and pictures by Clara.* Articles and recipe intros by Clara, Ilana, and guest authors.
*Except where otherwise stated.
We give (a damn)
Over the years, we have contributed to several worthy causes with the help of our wonderful readers. Read more here.
Things we live by:
- Homemade food
- Frugal living
- Earth-friendly living
- Eating local
- Cultural awareness
- Respect for all people