Remembering Ed - Food Gypsy

Remembering Ed – Cantina Habanero, Puerto Morelos, Mexico

Published On January 17, 2011 | By Gypsy | Central America, Travel

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.

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.

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.

Cantina Habanero, Enchiladas with Red & Green Sauce

Cantina Habenaro Enchiladas… in the heat of July in Mexico. Thank you Ed for your kindness, hospitality and FILTHY jokes!

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About The Author

"Gypsy" is not my real name." A freelance food & travel writer & photographer based in Aylmer, Quebec. Corinna Horton trained at Le Cordon Bleu, spent five years as the owner of Nova Scotia's Dragonfly Inn, and is currently between big, shiny kitchens as she focuses on family and what's next in this delicious life.

14 Responses to Remembering Ed – Cantina Habanero, Puerto Morelos, Mexico

  1. Frank Reams says:

    Thank you sincerely for the article you wrote on Ed. He was my dearest friend during the past years and was my family here. Thank you for mentioning the website as well. So far we have collected around $600 and I am hoping that as more people visit the memorial page they will contribute. Ed spoke often of the times he spent with you and about hoping to see you again. We will miss him but his memories will remain with us forever.


  2. Tree Mon says:

    I am a long-time resident of Puerto Morelos, MX. I actually moved there very near to the time Ed and so many others did. I have invested/enjoyed many hours at Habenero’s and grew to know and love Ed and his family… deeply. I am in Las Vegas for a few more days and can’t imagine going home and NOT passing by from the airport to honk at Ed. I have done this so many times that is a matter of my chosen course so Ed would know … ” Daddy’s home…”

    Damn I loved that dude….

  3. Dot Montreal says:

    My last meal with Ed was in July 2010.I have been going to PM for the last couple of years.Ed was always our first stop,(like most of us.) He made all of us feel part of his large extended family ,from , ALL over the world.He adored his family and I can’t imagine how the children must feel.Iam sure Naty will never let them forget their wonderful Dad.P.M. has lost a really special person who always tried to help people .It was a pleasure knowing him. I will still go in July this year, although there will, be a big VOID. R.I.P.Ed you were well loved

    • Gypsy says:

      Dot, Tree Mon & Frank –
      Thank you for posting. It was my pleasure to know Ed. I am glad to share his story and perhaps garner some support for his family.

      I too… loved that dude.

  4. Abby says:

    Thank you so much for your heartwarming article on Ed from Cantina Habaneros, he sincerely was a landmark in our small community and he will be missed by all. Frank was one of his closest friends and we were all shocked by the news. God bless you for your sincere tribute to Ed from Cantina Habaneros in Puerto Morelos

  5. Sonvya Duncan says:

    Thanks for the artical, we met Ed in August 2004 when he was just starting up Cantina Habanero…we moved to Puerto Morelos after that…Ed was a great friend, and so many miss him. Ed…Joe and I will really miss you.

    Joe and Sonvya Duncan

  6. Sue and Charlie, NJ says:

    Cantina Habanero Oct. 2010, was our first stop at the beginning of our vacation. It was the first time we met Ed. He sat with us ,drank cold beers, told us about his life and family. He was so funny, interesting and nice! We will never forget meeting him, he was a special soul. Condolences to his family and friends!

  7. KK McMillan says:

    I have been traveling in and around Puerto Morelos for many years. In 2003 I began coming directly to PM and staying around, rather than taking off for parts unknown. I am so very fortunate to have made many friends there and can continue my visits. Ed was a very special part of my life in the lovely village by the sea…I will miss him terribly. I wish Naty and the kids peace, love and strength as they continue life with out sweet, crazy, wild, irreverent, but endearing, Ed. RIP

  8. Patti McCormick says:

    I spent many hours with Ed and Naty, enjoying their friendship and great food. I’ll miss him, and my sympathy to Naty. He once told me “I just love her to death!”


  9. Watermelon says:

    Ed was cool. Ed was great. Ed made your margaritas taste real great. With lots of laughs and a couple of tears Ed made your stay throughout the years. He’s gone to be with the real Johnny Cash, heaven knows it can happen in a flash. Let’s hope he does what he loves to do and make heaven a more inviting place for me and you.

    Love you Ed. Miss you Mucho!

    • Gypsy says:

      Thank you one and all for sharing your thoughts and feelings one lovely human. Ed made us all laugh and when necessary, he knew how to make just the right cocktail to quell the tears or soften the blow, when to run a tab and when to cut us off and send us home.

      We are a connected community… taking care of each other. Pays to remember that… I think I need tequila now.
      ~ Gypsy

  10. Keith Angela says:

    I read about Ed’s death this week in the newsletter on Puerto Morelos from Alma Libre Bookstore. I was shocked although I was not a personal friend of Ed and I felt his death.

    I first met Ed in Oct. 2005 when I first visited Puerto Morelos. I was there in October 2010 and I was passing Ed’s place after a heavy rainfall, hungry and wondering if I should drop in. Although the place had a lot of people, Ed came out to talk to me. I then realised that I had visited his place a few doors down in 2005. We chatted for a while and he invited me in. I dropped in for a meal just before I left the following week. Again Ed came over, told me about a bit about his family and chatted for a while. He even told me that sometimes he rode a bike to deliver his very good friends pizza. I laughed at this. I could not imagine Ed riding a bike. He was such a nice man, genuinely hospitable. I promised to send him a Spanish link which I was using to study Spanish and I did and he thanked me for it and asked me to write reviews for all the places that I had visited in the town and to leave his place for last. He said that people were scared to come to Mexico due to the bad press. This was so selfless of him. He also sent me an e-mail thanking me for visiting Cantina Habernero when I returned home. When I go back to Puerto Morelos I will surely miss him. To me, he was the village of Puerto Morelos. Condolences to his wife and kids. He will be a great loss to this beautiful seaside town.

  11. Kellie - friend from Calgary says:

    I first met Ed in November 2010 – I was a lone traveller who Ed made feel, not-so-alone. He introduced me to everyone who came in as “his new friend from Calgary”…

    He had that special way that made you feel included, he went the extra mile to incorporate two entrees that I couldn’t decide between and gave me some advice about local activities. He sent me a follow-up message shortly after I left, and, as always mentioned Puerto Morelos with-in, he was a dedicated resident! I don’t have an inside source in PM so didn’t know about Ed until now as I was planning on a trip to Mexico in November and was about to send him a message, to ask his opinion about something…that’s how comfortable he made me feel, that I could take confidence in his opinion.

    Like he did with others, he talked about his family and the events/path that led him to PM – I found him to be a kindred sole. The thought of visiting PM without Ed there doesn’t hold the same special something.

    My sincerest condolences to all his family (direct and extended), a sad loss for all!


    • Gypsy says:

      Ed rescued me (from myself) on a drunken night of tequila racing with the locals… for the record, they won! He then became a friend and confidant, I’m sure the place misses him. Thank you for your note Kellie, it brought back such fond, memories.

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