The most exclusive club in the cigar world now has three new members—and none of them expected it. Marvin R. Shanken, editor and publisher of Cigar Aficionado magazine, surprised the three newest members of the Cigar Aficionado Hall of Fame at the Night To Remember on Tuesday night in New York City.
Litto Gomez of La Flor Dominicana Cigars, Jorge Padrón of Padrón Cigars, and Rocky Patel of Rocky Patel Premium Cigars were officially inducted into the Cigar Aficionado Hall of Fame on Tuesday. The three unsuspecting brand owners had just taken their seats in the Four Seasons pool room. Like most of the guests, they were anticipating the auction to begin, but when Shanken took the podium he announced that the Hall of Fame was getting bigger.
Shanken called Gomez to the podium first.
"This is very special," answered Gomez, the maker of La Flor Dominicana cigars. He showed genuine surprise as he accepted the unanticipated award. "Thank you, Marvin, for everything you do for this industry, for my company and for charity. I'm very humbled to be recognized for this honor."
As Gomez descended the steps, Shanken continued: "Now I'm going to call up Jorge Padrón, but Jorge, make sure you speak English," said Shanken in his typical ribbing fashion. Padrón, to the great amusement of the crowd, was silent for a moment, and then began his acceptance speech—in Spanish.
After a laugh, he continued in English. "A tremendous honor" he said, emotion lacing his voice. "It's beautiful to be here, holding this award. Now I can join my father and share this award with him." Company patriarch, José Orlando Padrón (who will turn 90 in June) was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012, making the Padróns the second father-and-son team to be part of Cigar Aficionado's Hall of Fame. Carlos Fuente Sr. (class of 1997) and Carlos Fuente Jr. (class of 2012) were the first.
A round of applause from the room of 230 ushered in the third new Hall of Famer, Rocky Patel.
"This is very humbling," Patel said. "Everyone said that I couldn't make it in the cigar industry because I wasn't of Cuban or Latin descent. This is a very unique honor and I thank you, Marvin, for recognizing me and all my family."
Patel mentioned his brother Nish, who is instrumental in the company and thanked the audience as well.
The Cigar Aficionado Hall of Fame was created to acknowledge cigarmakers in the premium sector who have distinguished themselves with world-class craftsmanship. The first inductions were made in 1997, starting with six Hall of Famers. The next round of inductions took place in 2012 at the Cigar Aficionado 20th Anniversary celebration, which added nine new members. Tuesday night's induction—the class of 2016—brings the Hall total up to 18.