Ivo Diaz wants guests at his upscale Brooklyn restaurant, Casa Ora, to experience the best of his home country of Venezuela – the culture, the beauty and, yes, the food. With headlines about Venezuela focused on its political and humanitarian crisis, Casa Ora is a reminder of the country’s better days, and a sanctuary for the members of his staff who also left their homeland behind.
Diaz’s mother moved their family to the U.S. in 1999, within a year of Hugo Chavez becoming president. She now works in the Casa Ora kitchen and remembers the family she left behind by cooking recipes that her mother created. The restaurant’s staff is made up of others who left Venezuela as well – including former engineers, a doctor and a dentist. “Every day at Casa Ora, we feel like home,” Diaz says.