¡Hola mi gente!
We are Merelis and Ysanet! We are both Afro-indigenous Dominican women who are guided by African and Indigenous roots and ancestors. We love food, specifically Dominican food, and wholeheartedly believe that food is medicine! We are educators, organizers, vegan and vegetarian chefs, nutrition brujas, and farmers in training. Our hope and desire with Woke Foods is to use it as a platform to remind our people of the knowledge they already have within them, talk about our collective ancestral connection to food, and share vegan and vegetarian Dominican food practices with our community.
We do this work through storytelling, catering, meal-planning, and cooking classes. As a business owned by women of color, we recognize how important it is for us to create businesses that are for us, by us! Most importantly, we recognize the role we play in caring for and protecting Mother Earth. We choose to prepare and eat plant-based foods because of the negative impact the meat production industry has on the planet. We are excited about the journey we are embarking on, and welcome all of you to join us.
Merelis Catalina Ortiz
¡Saludos! I am Merelis Catalina, a Afro-indígena Dominicana. I was born and raised in Queens, NY; my motherland the Dominican Republic (DR). I stayed connected to DR by visiting family during the summer every two years. I graduated from the City College of New York, where I discovered my passion for food sovereignty and studied the connection between culture and food. The past five years, I have worked with the Northern Manhattan community around nutrition education, to speak on ways food is medicine. Today I work as a wellness organizer, where I help organize schools and early childhood centers bring wellness to their spaces in a culturally respectful way. I am guided and inspired by my community of powerful and loving Black and Brown people. I am the living legacy of my ancestors and family, who have and continue to nourish and heal community through food.
I love to eat tostones and make my natural version of vivaporú called Vidaporú!
¡Buenas! I am Ysanet and I am a queer Afro-Dominicana, born in Harlem, NY. I was raised in between the Dominican Republic and Hialeah, FL. I spent my childhood in Santo Domingo, DR playing in my grandmother’s garden, then moved to Florida. I graduated from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI and spent a couple of years working in major hotel companies before transitioning to community based work. Today, I live and work in the Bronx as a nutrition and food justice educator for bilingual middle school students. My passions include holistic cooking, farming, writing, community organizing, and making homemade products. I am inspired by the power and magic of Black and Brown people, the ocean, and the Now. I am currently a student at Farm School NYC earning a certificate in Urban Agriculture.
I love eating Platano Maduros and talking gut health!