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How Cuba’s artists took to the kitchen to earn their crust in lockdown

As Covid pushed the island’s economy to the brink of collapse, musicians and film-makers found another way to be creative – cooking, baking and selling

Not far from Havana’s Plaza de la Revolucion, where Che Guevara stares out nine storeys high from the side of Cuba’s Ministry of the Interior, Julio Cesar Imperatori perches on the edge of a table in the kitchen of a shuttered restaurant.

“We started to run out of money,” he says of himself and two friends, Osmany and Wilson. “Everyone was closing down. No one was buying pictures. So we decided to do something. We thought, everyone’s gotta eat and my grandmother, Eldia, she has a recipe for pie. And so … the American Pie company.”

The American Pie Co team with Julio Cesar Imperatori (right).

Julio Cesar Imperatori with his grandmother Eldia; a framed photo taken by Julio.

Sarah Sofia Gutierrez in her kitchen.

Sarah making spinach pastry; preparing a cake.

Dancer and jam-maker Christa Verena Hernandez and her husband Alexis with their children, Leon and Aylin.

You have to queue at midnight for ingredients. Then you get in the store and there is nothing left.

Christa and Alexis rehearsing. (right) Christa, Kalia and Niela prepare jams for delivery; decorative covers on the jams.

Leysa Medina, Evelyn Batista and Violena Ampudia of Las Frescas.

Las Frescas’ vegetarian produce; Las Frescas food out for delivery.

Related: ‘A country teetering on the precipice’: Castro’s Cuba in pictures

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