Obama loved those tacos, but this Miami chef thought Gillum should try fritas cubanas instead

Ariete chef Micheal Beltran served fritas at an event Nov. 4 at Shenandoah Park for Florida gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Gillum Sunday. The crowd included Hollywood stars America Ferrara, Gina Rodriguez, Zoe Saldana and Eva Longoria.Courtesy Michael Beltran

Barack Obama and Andrew Gillum came to Miami and they ate … tacos — in Wynwood?

That didn’t sit well with Miami native and Cuban-American chef Michael Beltran, owner of Coconut Grove’s Ariete. The former president and Florida gubernatorial hopeful visited Coyo Taco during a rally on Nov. 2 causing a commotion among supporters.

“These people come to Miami, they should be eating Miami food,” Beltran said. “They should be having a Cuban sandwich, black beans or a frita…. Yeah, I was salty they ate tacos.”

He mentioned it to a friend, Ana Sofía Peláez, a James Beard award-nominated cookbook author, who works on Gillum’s campaign. During a busy brunch crush Sunday at Ariete, she texted him a note: Would you come cook fritas (Cuban hamburgers) for Gillum’s event at Shenandoah park?

Beltran didn’t hesitate. The park is just minutes from his house. (He can see his grandparents’ house from the infield.)

Ariete chef Micheal Beltran (center) served fritas at an event Nov. 4 at Shenandoah Park for Florida gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Gillum. Luisa “Lulu” Santos of Lulu’s Ice Cream served her sweet treats.

He arrived at the park with a flattop griddle, his general manager Rafael Velazquez as an assistant, and both strapped on aprons to serve 150 fritas for what turned out to be a who’s who.

The crowd included Gillum and Hollywood stars Eva Longoria (“Desperate Housewives”), Zoe Saldana (“Guradians of the Galaxy”), America Ferrara (“Superstore”) and Gina Rodriguez (“Jane the Virgin”). They all posed with plates of their chorizo and beef burger patties, a twist Beltran puts on the classic.

Obama must have felt left out. He stopped at a local frita shop, El Mago de las Fritas, during his 2008 campaign.

“The frita really is what Miami food is all about,” Beltran said “And if you’re in my community, I want to represent my community to the best of my abilities.”

Beltran committed to giving out free fritas Tuesday (while supplies last) to anyone who shows up with sticker showing they voted.

“Voting is very important to me. It’s not about red or blue. I’m not one to pick a side — it’s all about issues to me,” Beltran said. “To me, voting is what you do for our country.”


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