He’s the king of Venezuelan handheld delights: Eduardo Lee is the owner of Arepa Café. The “arepera” is a traditional diner from Venezuela created by Eduardo’s expression of design, gastronomy, branding, marketing, art, and culture. It is a place for breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack or dinner. Sometimes it’s a stop to eat after a good night out. Not only a restaurateur, he also has a design agency that fuels his passions and has plans for more projects in the coming years. He explores ideas from inspirations, and executes design projects, provoking awareness, telling stories, and articulating a language about one-self and our surroundings.
Meet Eduardo Lee, the uber creative man behind Arepa Cafe…
Give us a snippet about you. What should people know?
I am Eduardo Lee, an environmental designer and entrepreneur. I came to Toronto from my native Caracas, Venezuela, close to 20 years ago.
For those who need a crash course on Venezuelan cuisine, can you quickly describe an arepa and why they are so awesome?
An arepa is a corn meal sandwich original from the northend countries of South-America, particularly Colombia and Venezuela. The filled arepa (arepa café style) is originally from the city of Caracas. It is a common Latin staple food filled with savory recipes and it is gluten free at its best.
Finish this sentence. I love arepas because…
I love arepas because they give me comfort and warmth, and they are so delicious!!
What has Arepa’s impact been on the Venezuelan and Latin communities of Toronto? And people of those communities just visiting the city?
Arepa Café showcases its main product (the arepa) with pride, making an impact to multicultural Toronto by adding an alternative ‘culture food’. It also has influenced the way Latin food is perceived and presented. Arepas are served at our restaurant in a humble fashion surrounded by the comfort of a space evoking Venezuelan roots of bonanza and prosperity with the purpose of inspiring a country in turmoil.
When you are taking a break from being the king of Venezuelan handheld delights, what else do you like to do?
My life as an entrepreneur keeps me busy and also disciplined towards maintaining healthy business activity. When time frees for other actions, I practice design work and creative collaborations with others within the fields of architecture, interior design, fashion, graphic arts, and photography.
What’s your favourite restaurant and why?
Hard to say! But I will go with my emotions with this one: Of my favourite restaurants, I have to mention The Rosedale Diner. I have known it for such a long time. Every time I visit, there is a cozy feeling in the atmosphere. It makes me think of close friends and family. The food is consistent and simple and the staff is always friendly. Its location also brings memories of my upbringing back home. I guess that’s why it is one of my favourites – nostalgia.
Three things you can’t live without?
Air (oxygen); honey; people. Or a good malt-scotch; cashmere wool; almonds.
Let’s get social for a mo’. How can people stay up-to-date with all your globe-trotting?
Since I opened a restaurant my focus has been on it, almost exclusively. Nonetheless, I am in the process of re-activating my personal blog.
Check out why you need to visit Arepa sooner than later!