JOSE RAMON (RAYMOND) CASTRO:
Comfort Food With Spice
Jose Ramon Castro began cooking at age 9 in a little
house on Rosedale Avenue in the Bronx. His mother liked
yellow, so she had painted the kitchen bright yellow. She
let him cook eggs first. Then came rice, beans, pork,
seasoning, the works. Mr. Castro, 37, was fascinated with
He started working at 13, delivering food, preparing
food, cooking in restaurants around the city. When the
World Trade Center was attacked on Tuesday, he was
working as a prep cook in a food court on the 101st floor
of one of the towers, readying food for the chef.
He specialized in sophisticated food, said his sister,
Maritza. "Because that's what people in Manhattan liked
to eat." But at home in the South Bronx, he cooked for
his family: pernil, rice with gandules, lasagna, ziti,
rice pudding, honey-glazed turkey on Thanksgiving.
"They had a son three years ago," Ms. Castro said of
her brother and his wife, Gladys. "Oh, that's the love of
his life, and I do mean the love of his life. He looks
just like him, too. He's light-skinned, dirty-blond hair,
hazel eyes, skinny just like my brother."