“¡Qué cool por Puerto Rico!”
- Chef Raúl Correa
Puerto Rico chefs and restaurants are having a wonderful run this year in terms of national recognition. Chef José Enrique and his eponymous restaurant in Santurce and the new José Andrés venture Mi Casa in Dorado have garnered nominations from the James Beard Foundation. In addition to those, FIVE out of the ten nominees for People’s Best New Chef: Gulf Coast from Food and Wine magazine have Puerto Rican roots or experience. It is probably the most exciting time in gastronomy on the island.
I was very lucky to be invited to Zest, the restaurant at the San Juan Water & Beach Club hotel, to celebrate one of these nominations: Chef Raúl Correa’s. Chef Correa is up for People’s Best New Chef: Gulf Coast. A product of local culinary school, Chef Correa has fused classic French cuisine with local ingredients to arrive at a different take on “hotel food”. He was recognized by the hotel general manager for not only focusing on the quality of the food experience at “the Water Club”, but for extending his commitment to customer service to all areas of this boutique hotel.
Here’s a sample of some of Chef Correa’s offerings for the evening. I wish I had (better) pictures of everything!
- Pork rinds with chili pepper and lime
- Popcorn soup with truffled butter and rosemary
- Chayote (mirliton) “taquito” topped with yellowtail ceviche
- Anise+Rum cured salmon on top of DUCK FAT PAN SOBAO rounds with stewed mustard seeds
- Grilled octopus with confit tomatoes and chorizo vinaigrette
- Duck confit on pumpkin puree
- Pork belly with black beans and micro greens
Duck fat pan sobao… I’m still wrapping my head around that one. The popcorn soup was just as memorable.
The evening flew by between enjoying these delicious bites, catching up with old friends and making new ones. It was a wonderful mid-week treat! Big thanks to Raul and Lucy from VegLatino for inviting me.
** I was invited to an evening of cocktails and appetizers to celebrate the nomination of Chef Raúl Correa in Food & Wine People’s Best New Chef: Gulf Coast. All opinions here are my own. No compensation was provided for this article. Now go vote for him – first name on the list!