NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – After ten years working as a doorman, Angel Medina was ready for a change.
Tenants with whom he shared recipes and cooking tips encouraged him to turn his passion for food into a new career.READ MORE: NYPD: Delivery Worker Stabbed To Death, E-Bike Stolen Near Sara D. Roosevelt Park
He came up with the idea for Jibarito Shack, a pop-up stall serving Latin sandwiches.
“We reimagine deli favorites from uptown,” Medina said. “Instead of bread, we use fried plantains.”
He makes a version of the Chopped Cheese, a bodega staple he grew up eating in the Bronx.
“The fan favorite right now is our take on a Cuban. Instead of Swiss cheese and ham, we use fried Dominican salami and queso frito [Domican fried cheese]. We call it a Dominicano.”
At Jibarito Shack, Medina incorporates flavors of New York City and Latin America.
“I’m from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. What a lot of people don’t know is that we’re pretty much the mutts of the Caribbean. So we have African roots, Asian, Eastern European, Spanish, and native Taino. So we try to take all those influences and bring them to the booth,” he said. “I’m proud of all my ethnicities.”
Medina has several nicknames, including “Sandwich Papi” and “the Dog-Walking Chef”—he runs a dog-walking business alongside his culinary career.
“I hate having free time,” he said.READ MORE: 16-Year-Old Isaiah Levine Killed In Double Shooting On Lower East Side, Second Victim In Hospital
Luckily, he has some help.
His partner at Jibarito Shack is his sister Carol—she helps manage the business while he takes care of the cooking.
“I’m here to support and help him achieve his dream in any way I can. That’s what family’s for,” she said.
Medina’s mother also pitches in—she spends an hour preparing the rice for the stall.
Medina has found that sharing his cooking helps him build connections.
“I’ve always worked around people my entire life, but I never considered myself a people person. So food was kind of the bridging point for me and people,” he said.
He likes to see customers interact with his food—even if reactions are negative.
“I take compliments, and I take complaints just as easily. I want everyone to give me their honest opinion because I’m here to grow. I’m not a classically-trained chef. I’m self-taught,” he said. “There’s people that give us bad reviews, there’s people that give us amazing reviews, and I cherish both of them.”
Through October at the Bronx Night Market
E Fordham Road
The Bronx, NY 10458
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