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.
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 married to Bo, and mom to Nadia.
With Ilana, Clara has authored two books on Dominican cooking (currently out of print): Traditional Dominican Cookery, and Aunt Clara’s Dominican Recipes. Clara has been a freelance photographer, recipe developer and food writer for dozens of brands, magazines, and publications. You can see Clara’s photography portfolio here. Or enjoy her recipes and photos in this blog.
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, are a collaborative effort from a pair of friends who share the love for the culinary in general, and Dominican Food in particular. We believe that our cuisine is rich and that it ought to be promoted as healthy, varied and a reflection of our culture.
These sites were started in 2001 by Clara, Ilana joined-in in 2004. This is the ninth major redesign of our site during those years.
In 2005 we published our first cookbook, and in 2007 launched a new edition.
In 2017 we adopted the byname Simple, by Clara to simplify our presence in social media.
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.
In 2014 our blog was one of the finalists in Saveur Magazine’s Best Food Blog Award in the Regional Cuisine category.
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)
From 2007-2013 with the sales of our now out-of-print book, we supported Plan, a development agency working to improve nutrition in the most economically depressed areas of the country. Read more here.
Things we live by:
- Homemade food
- Frugal living
- Earth-friendly living
- Eating local
- Cultural awareness
- Respect for all people
Please comment on the actual post if you have anything to say about it, or contact us if you have any other questions or inquiries.