Remembering Ed – Cantina Habanero, Puerto Morelos, Mexico
A sad piece of news from south of the border reached me this weekend, Ed Hoffman, proprietor of Cantina Habanero & JJ’s Cantina in Puerto Morelos, Mexico passed away suddenly on January 14th, 2011.
He leaves behind is lovely wife, Nataly and their two small children Jessily and Jeremy. I can only imagine the shock felt by his friends and family. I am so sad for your loss and the deep wound it will leave on a little seaside town in the Yucatan.
As I launched Food Gypsy, traveling through Central America this spring and summer, Puerto Morelos became my second home and jumping off point, and Ed became a fast friend. A rare charismatic character, Ed had a talent for making people feel like part of the family in his establishment, for caring about people and for running multiple businesses, his family life and promoting business in Puerto Morelos with deep passion.
I remember well a conversation with Ed this past April over a big juicy burger and a strawberry margarita (hair of the dog moment) discussing the industry at length, its challenges and its rewards. I had just sold my business (the Dragonfly Inn) and was exhausted from the heavy responsibility of providing not just for myself and the business, but the staff and their livelihood. It was a burden that I was happy to release to others.
Ed shook his head and sympathized with the struggle, but his words stayed with me “I love that people depend on me. I love that I wake up in the morning and I know that I have not just my family to feed but those of my staff and my suppliers. It is what drives me. I don’t know what I would do if I weren’t doing this… it’s my juice.”
That gave me pause. It reminded me what a very rare opportunity it is to feed those around you – in every sense.
The food & beverage industry is filled with colourful characters. It is not for the faint of heart or those with mild manners. It is an ‘in-your-face’ daily grind that can chew you up and spit you out… unless you bite first.
And while we may discuss at length this entree and that wine on Food Gypsy… it is the people who make it happen. People like Ed, the passionate professional who seeks out the best beef, real cheddar and fresh produce, cooking his ribs for hours until tender, making his enchiladas so authentic you swear you are in a kitchen with a Mexican grandmother.
My piece on Cantina Habanero was one of the very first articles I posted on Food Gypsy. http://www.foodgypsy.ca/eating_out/mexican-not-so-fast-food-cantina-habanero/
I am a big fan of the town and its people. Deepest condolences to all who knew him. I miss him already. Where will I go now for truly funny off-colour humor?! Who will pester me endlessly on Facebook, peppering me with naughty comments?!
His sudden passing rocked his family and his neighbours, who care about him enough to set up a memorial and donations page with a Pay Pal link to help Nataly fund her future. http://www.cantinahabanero.com/Memorial.html
We are a community that is scattered across many miles, joined at the heart. Ed, you will be greatly missed. I’m sure there’s premium scotch where you are my friend.
Cheers to you.