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Immigrant Chef Stories

Chef Bruce Ucan

In light of current political events, many of our local food writers have chosen to feature immigrant chefs in their stories. Their desire to support the ethnic chef community makes a bold statement of support for restaurants like ours, which is owned and run by immigrants. We are thrilled to have a voice and a face in this conversation. The people of Louisville have supported Chef Bruce Ucan and his food for over 20 years now. We want to thank each of these writers for their commitment to our immigrant community.


Leo Weekly | Robin Garr | February 8, 2017
“As the nation wrestles with issues surrounding immigrants and refugees these days, a number of Louisville food writers are standing up this month for immigrants and the gifts they bring by highlighting some of the city’s top restaurants where new neighbors from other countries preside in the kitchen. I can’t think of a better place to begin than Mayan Cafe, which has become not only a local destination dining room but a restaurant frequently mentioned when national publications cover Louisville’s dining scene.”

Courier Journal | Dana McMahan | February 27, 2017 | (part 1)
“Ethnic food just has more soul than American food. I am not going to be apologetic about that. I believe that the best, most flavorful and inspiring food in Louisville comes from the ethnic restaurants in this town. The ethnic restaurants set the standard for what really good food is, and I hope other chefs here aspire to that level.”

Courier Journal | Dana McMahan | March 6, 2017 | (part 2)
“It’s easy to hate someone you don’t know and have never met. When you go to an ethnic restaurant and meet the owner (because they’re actually there) and get to know their kids and get excited about their food, that changes your perception of that person and where they come from. Those individual, personalized interactions are most effective in breaking down stereotypes. We deeply need the immigrant-owned businesses in this community to keep us grounded, open and creative. The immigrants are what make this country rich and strong.”

Insider Louisville | Lindsey McClave | March 6, 2017
“Anne Shadle says that Chef Ucán greatly appreciates the warmth and openness of the Louisville community. “When Bruce opened the Mayan Gypsy, he had $50 in his checking account. Upscale Latin cuisine was not the norm in the ’90s, and he wasn’t sure if it would work. But the community was so accepting of his flavors, and the support has been consistent ever since.” “