The Next Iron Chef. Top Chef. James Beard. If you’re a foodie or a lover of food TV, you’ll be very familiar with these shows and awards, which celebrate and attract some of the best chefs in the world. What you may not know is that some of Puerto Rico’s top cooks have appeared on your favorite cooking shows and have been in the running for the best culinary honors in the world. Get to know four of the island’s best culinary minds.
Perhaps the hottest chef in Puerto Rico at the moment, José Enrique has amassed an impressive list of accolades. Only a year after he opened his flagship restaurant in Santurce, Condé Nast Traveler named Jose Enrique Restaurant on its list of 105 best new restaurants. But it was 2013 that proved to be a seminal year for the young chef who elevates Puerto Rican cuisine to an art form. That year, Chef Enrique was selected as a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation award for “Best Chef South.” It was the first time a Puerto Rican chef was considered for the honor. In 2013, he was also listed among Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs. Again, this was a first for a Puerto Rican. His restaurant is one reason why a trip to Santurce (which is just a short ride from the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino) is a must for any gourmand.
One of the pioneering trailblazers who helped put Puerto Rican cuisine on the global culinary landscape, Chef Wilo graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and went on to work at some of the most celebrated eateries in the country, like The Water Club and Le Bernardin. He was a guest chef on “Top Chef” and then a participant on its spinoff show, “Top Chef Masters.” Chef Wilo is also an author, photographer and a winemaker; his DobleÚ label is a Tempranillo that is aged for 14 months. Chef Wilo is a culinary artist whose work can be sampled at his restaurant, Pikayo.
Chef Treviño once went head to head against Mario Batali on the Food Network’s “Iron Chef America.” He returned to culinary combat to participate in Season 2 of “The Next Iron Chef.” A regular on-air personality, he’s become a celebrated restaurateur who has opened some of San Juan’s most popular eateries. Casa Lola, Budatai, and Bar Gitano are all his creations, and they’re all worth a visit for Puerto Rican and fusion cuisine with unique flair.
A contestant on the third season of “The Next Iron Chef,” Chef Mario Pagán battled world-class cooks like Ming Tsai and Marc Forgione. His Puerto Rican roots translate to his menu, which can be enjoyed at Laurel Kitchen/Art Bar, at the stunning Museum of Art of Puerto Rico in San Juan.
Puerto Rico’s culinary star has been on the rise for many years, attracting top chefs from around the world to the island. One of these culinary masters is Jean Georges Vongerichten, who opened Fern at the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort. Fern features a carefully selected menu of Jean Georges favorites from his restaurants around the world.
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