Maricel Presilla is author,historian, chef-restaurateur and general ambassador of all cuisines and cultures Latin. But she took the indirect route to becoming a chef: Dr. Presilla used to teach medieval history at New York and Rutgers universities. But in studying anthropology and culture, Maricel found herself specifically drawn to the FOOD of civilization throughout the ages. And she finally made the leap entirely – foregoing academia for a full-on career as chef and food writer. She soon opened Zafra, a pan-Latin restaurant in Hoboken, New Jersey which has garnered rave reviews for its unique take on Latin American cuisine. Her inquiring academic mind pushed Maricel into investigating the culinary history of Latin America and Spain. The scholar-turned-chef began to do what she thought she had left behind: researching and writing. “Little did I think I would be writing again,” she said. Dr. Presilla has done exhaustive research on Latin American food and agriculture – with special emphasis on tropical crops, cacao and vanilla agriculture, and chocolate production. She is also the president of Gran Cacao Company – a Latin American food research and marketing company that specializes in the sale of premium cacao beans from Latin America. Her latest book is The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History of Chocolate with Recipes (Ten Speed Press, 2001).