The Pachecos are a true Renaissance couple. Dr. Ferdie Pacheco is known as "The Fight Doctor," and most famously as Muhammed Ali's physician and corner man. A famous talker, Pacheco was also a TV sports analyst for decades. He's also a prolific painter and writer. At 83, he paints and writes every day. His latest book,Tales of the 5th Street Gym
, about the legendary "University of Boxing," was released earlier this year.
His wife, Luisita Sevilla Pacheco, was a flamenco dancer with her own school. As a girl growing up in Colorado, she dreamed of being a Spanish dancer. When flamenco artist Jose Greco came to town, she auditioned for him. He kindly advised her to get some training. Her parents sold their life insurance and sent the fourteen-year-old to Sevilla, where she learned Spanish, and became a dancer. She took on the dancing name "Luisita Sevilla." Ferdie says that when he saw her dancing, he knew that he was going to marry her. This month, the Pachecos celebrated their 40th anniversary.
Interview after the jump.
Luisita typed and helped out with all of her husband's books. They've even collaborated on two cookbooks:The Columbia Restaurant Cookbook
andThe Caffe Abbracci Cookbook
. Ferdie Pacheco will sign copies ofTales of the 5th Street Gym
at thegrand reopening of the gym
this weekend. The gym will be open to the public this Saturday and Sunday. You can also catch the Pachecos at Books & Books Miami Beach on October 5.
New Times: What are some of your favorite restaurants?
We've lived in Bay Point for six years and we could never find anywhere
to eat around here. We'd go to the Gables, we'd go to the Beach, and
now we're starting to find good little restaurants in the Design
Fratelli Lyon is one.
Luisita: He loves veal marsala or veal al limone at Fratelli.
Ferdie: Buena Vista Deli
has one thing and one thing alone -- tomato soup. It has excellent
salads. It's like being in a little place in France. It's not elegant,
it's a neighborhood place. No problem parking, no problem anything,
just a nice little place.
Luisita: And they have a pork
sandwich that is delicious. They have all kinds of paninis and baked
goods and cheeses. It's a delightful place to go because you just sit
there and read the newspaper and a lot of young people go and discuss
Ferdie: We go to Soyka's. My wife loves it. Meatloaf is the main thing I like there. Good crowd. A lot of people go in there.
my standard for Italian food. We wrote a book about him [Nino Pernetti,
the owner]. So we're loyal to him, and it's very good.
Luisita: After we did the Columbia restaurant cookbook, we asked Nino, because
we were real fans of Caffe Abbracci and we'd been going there since my
daughter was little. In 1992, we asked him if I he wanted to do a
cookbook with us and he says, "Why would I do a cookbook? Then people
would steal my recipes and then they wouldn't come to my restaurant."
But about three years ago, he called us and asked us to do it.
Do you like to cook?
I have the world's greatest cook for a wife. She is just a master of
cooking. I learned long ago that I was lucky to have her. We stay home
because her cooking is better than any restaurant. But it is nice to go
out every once in a while.
What's your favorite thing she cooks/to cook?
She does a great veal. She knows that the secret to great cooking is
time. You let meat soak. You cook it for two or three hours. You don't
just throw it on a pan and get it hot. It's slow simmering, it's
basting. It's love and care, and boy she does that.
She also does a great red bean soup.
Mexican enchiladas--I like to cook them, but he doesn't like to eat
them. He doesn't like spicy foods, so I save them for my mother.
loves Spanish food. He loves shrimp enchilada with the good yellow
rice. He doesn't like paella, but I make a nice chicken one. I make
I made a veal last night and it took me two hours. I
like to cook things very slowly in the oven. They come out so moist
that they just melt in your mouth.
What's in your refrigerator?
I have olives, eggs. I don't have a lot of cutlets like ham because I
try not to eat too much of that. I have veal, or steak, or chicken to
cook and I have a lot of tomatoes and avocadoes.
I have a mango
chutney that I made with Pauline Winick [executive coach and former
executive vice president of The Miami Heat]. I have bottles and bottles
and bottles. You can serve it with chicken, pork, steak or put it on
toast with cream cheese. I have a tree here but there weren't a lot of
mangoes this year. So, I go to the Haitian grocery store on 54th
Street. They have the most delicious candy mangoes. I buy them by the
It takes a long time -- at least 8 hours. You have to let
it simmer, and you have to clean the jars. That's why I like to do it
every year with Pauline. We're thinking about making "Miami Mango
Chutney" and selling it, but we don't know if we're going to do that.
But we have a nice gift for Christmas and Hanukkah.
What did you have for breakfast today?
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I have the same thing every morning. I have a Cuban coffee with milk
and piece of toasted Cuban bread with butter.That's what I've had
every morning since I was a kid. I love it.