Esencias Panameñas, LLC
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About Esencias Panameñas Restaurant & Catering

Esencias Panameñas Restaurant & Catering is an authentic Panamanian cuisine restaurant and a sole proprietor business.

The Mission:

Esencias Panameñas will combine menu variety, ambience, and friendly staff to create a sense of "place" in order to reach its goal of over-all value in the dining/entertainment experience.  Its main focus will be to serve a large selection of quality and freshly-prepared authentic Panamanian meals with healthy ingredients in a simple straightforward manner at a great price.

The Name:

Esencias Panameñas refers to the distinctive Panamanian Spices that causes a unique aroma and flavor that is as pleasing to the senses as it is to the palate.  Panama's key spice is "culantro" (not cilantro), as shown in the picture to the left.  Culantro is a tropical perennial in the Apiaceae family that is widely used as a seasoning in many of our dishes.  It is native to Central and South America and not well known in the United States.

The Owner:

A native of Panama City, Panama, Yadira Stamp realized her passion for the culinary arts at an early age, assisting her mother in the kitchen to prepare meals for her clients.  Uncertain of a restaurant career, Chef Yadira worked as an executive consultant and senior business analyst for 32 years before realizing that her culinary interests hadn't waned.

Chef Yadira decided to pursue her passion for the kitchen and earned a culinary degree at the Art Institute of Washington (AIW) in Arlington, Virginia.  Upon graduation in 2010, she immediately accepted a position at Pinzimini, an Italian-inspired eatery located within The Westin Arlington Gateway.  From 2010 to 2011 she performed virtually every restaurant job available to her, as part of an internship program required for AIW's graduate students.  She worked as a dishwasher, a busboy, a waitress, a line cook, a bartender, and a front-of-the-house assistant Manager.  She also shadowed both the Executive Chef and Front-of-the-house Manager in hopes of acquiring additional skill sets that were not taught in school. 

Over the past 30 years, Chef Yadira has spent much of her career serving culinary creations at churches, weddings, graduations, repass, birthday parties, and in homes as a Private Chef, in the Washington DC Metro Area.  She has performed cooking demonstrations at the Farm-to-Street Party, as part of the 'Eat Local First Week', as well as during 'Growing Healthy Schools Month', which celebrated the DC Healthy Schools initiative that was launched by First Lady Michelle Obama in public schools throughout the District of Columbia .  She also volunteered for three (3) consecutive years, from 2009 to 2011, at The Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show, which is an annual two-day culinary extravaganza where she assisted in the preparation of the food presented by The Neelys and by Paula Deen. 

In 2012, Chef Yadira joined the volunteer team at 'N Street Village', a community of empowerment and recovery for homeless and low-income women in Washington, DC, where she cooks and serves lunch and/or dinner for the women.  In 2014, she participated in the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance Organization's annual "Turn Up the Heat: A Celebration of Women Chefs" event, where she prepared and served her native Panamanian dishes to 400 attendees.  

On July 20, 2015, Chef Yadira's dream of becoming a Restauranteur finally came to fruition.  She opened Esencias Panameñas Restaurant & Catering at 3322 Georgia Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20010, showcasing the diverse provinces of Panama, and the Caribbean.  In 2015 and 2016, as a member of the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GWHCC), she participated in their annual Business Expo at the Washington Convention Center, where she prepared and server her native dishes to 250 attendees. In 2016, in celebration of 'Hispanic Heritage Month', she catered the events for the AARP Organization and for NBC4 News, serving dishes from Panama and other Hispanic countries, and she was featured in 'El Tiempo Latino' (Washington Post Spanish Newspaper). And most recent, on January 20, 2017, Chef Yadira served as one of the Chef for the 2017 Presidential Inauguration luncheon.

Since opening, Chef Yadira has been featured on television, newspapers, online magazines, and in several blogs, both in Panama City, Panama, as well as in the DC Metropolitan Area. For more information, please access the "Media" page. 


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