Tia Clara Dominican Food Hispanic Kitchen

Meet the Dominican Tia Everyone Wants in Their Kitchen

In every family, there is the boss in the kitchen, the relative who is constantly whipping up the most delicious, iconic, fragrant, and cherished recipes for the entire family to enjoy. 

If you don’t have someone like this in your family, fear not. Tia Clara is the Tia you always wanted in your kitchen. 

Tia Clara, otherwise known as Clara Gonzalez, is the culinary goddess and food-loving Latina behind the award-winning bilingual food blogs Dominican Cooking and Cocina Dominicana

She’s also the chef and co-author behind cookbooks Yo Cocino Latino, Traditional Dominican Cookery, and Aunt Clara’s Dominican Recipes (the last two are currently out of print).

For twenty years, Clara — Dominican born and bred — has been the chef, face, camera, and voice behind hundreds of delicious recipes that are both timeless and inventive, classic and modernized. 

Her goal is and has always been to share foods and recipes that embrace the flavors of the Caribbean and help people connect with Caribbean culture. 

A Dominican cookbook for everyone

Dominican Cooking contains the internet’s largest collection of traditional Dominican recipes, recipes inspired by the Dominican taste, and articles about the Dominican Republic’s food history, culture, and traditions.

This food blog is not like other food blogs. Sure, there are delicious recipes that will inspire even the least kitchen-savvy foodies to get cooking. But Tia Clara also offers a glimpse into the beautiful nuances of Dominican culture, from holidays and celebrations to the best Dominican restaurants to food etiquette and more.

It is an all-encompassing destination to help you dive into Dominican culture and cooking. 

Tia Clara has been busy, but don’t expect her to slow down any time soon. After all, these delicious Dominican dishes won’t cook themselves, and she’s on a culinary mission to share the joys of Dominican cooking with the world.

But her career didn’t start in the kitchen. Initially, Clara was studying industrial design before realizing her true passion was food, food photography, and exploring the many ways that cuisine can tell a cultural story that spans generations.

Clara found her real love (professional and personal) was traveling around the country, asking people about, writing about, photographing, and tasting what Dominican cuisine has to offer. And she shares her experiences, her life lessons, her foodie insights, and her recipes through her blogs, her Instagram account, and of course, her cookbooks.

We chatted with Tia Clara about her career path, her inspiration in the kitchen, her most significant obstacles as a Latina entrepreneur and chef, and of course, her favorite dishes to make (and eat). When in doubt about mealtime, Tia Clara knows what you should make, how to make it, and all the tips and tricks you need to nail Dominican cooking.

What or who is your greatest inspiration in the kitchen?

Certainly, my mother created the tastes and aromas that reminded me of my childhood and became the foundation of my Dominican recipe repertoire. But there are many more women that inspired me: my maternal grandmother, my aunts, some of my friends, and even their own relatives.

What has been the most challenging and rewarding part of your Dominican Cooking blog?

The most challenging part was the beginning, 22 years ago. When I started, there were few websites created by and for home cooks. Recipe sites were typically corporate vehicles for marketing purposes. I had to make many things from scratch – even a blogging platform!

How were you able to turn your blog into a thriving online community?

Longevity, constant improvement, respect for our readers, and an unwavering passion for what I do. We’re already on the second generation of readers! Many of them tell us that their moms, who knew of us from way back, would just send them links to our blog when they asked about a recipe.

What are some of the biggest mistakes you have made in the kitchen, and what did you learn from those missteps?

I do not like to dwell on mistakes, so I don’t keep track of them. I am always more invested in listening to what our readers ask and trying to improve our content.

While I did take more time than I should have to make videos for the recipes, our blog now has – with over 250 videos and growing – the Internet’s largest collection of Dominican recipe videos.

How does time in the kitchen (and time eating your delicious dishes) help you connect with your culture and pass those traditions on to others?

I live in the Dominican Republic and have lived in many regions, from Montecristi to Punta Cana, so my culture already envelops me. Between an extensive collection of antique Dominican cookbooks and history books that I use for my historical research and frequent traveling around the country asking people about their recipes and ways of doing things, I seek to share not just my own family recipes but also expand on those that I had not tried or even heard of in my childhood. Our content is a collective effort, as it is many times our readers that point us in new and exciting directions.

What do you hope readers and followers take away from your recipes, cookbooks, and online community?

I hope they take away our sense of pride in our culinary culture, our love and passion for discovering and sharing this knowledge, and the idea that Dominican cooking is more diverse than any of us knew. I want my readers to have pride in ownership of this little corner of the internet because, in many ways, they lead us. Our readers collectively know more about our gastronomic culture than I possibly could, so together, we are an unparalleled resource.

What are your favorite recipes to make? Favorite dishes to eat?

That is an impossible question as the answer changes from day to day, season to season, and even mood. But the things that I would miss more if I could never have them again are tostones, mangú, pollo guisado, and sancocho.

View Comments

Erica Nahmad

Erica Nahmad is a writer and blogger based in Miami, Florida. A native New Yorker, she previously worked at Fitness Magazine, O, The Oprah Magazine, and wrote web content for saludmovil.com, LatinaMoms.com, and Mamiverse.com. She is a full-time mom to two young children, a self-proclaimed foodie, a dog-lover, and a wine enthusiast. When not writing about all things health, fitness, pop culture, relationships, food, and personal growth, she is spending time with her family, breaking a sweat (she is a former fitness instructor and 5-time marathon runner), or learning everything she can about the latest trends in the wellness world.

RecommendedView All