Jose Santaella

Location: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Restaurant: Santaella
Position: Executive Chef / Owner
Cuisine focus: Between classic & modern (always organic)
Notable Awards: Smithsonian Latino Center Gala Chef, Food & Wine The People’s Best New Chef Gulf Coast 2014

Jose Santaella is a prominent Puerto Rican chef, cookbook author, restaurant owner and caterer with more than 20 years of experience and a vast knowledge on both Puerto Rico’s gastronomy and international cuisine. From Puerto Rico, Miami, Barcelona, New York and San Francisco, Santaella has worked with globally acclaimed chefs, such as Ferran Adria (El Bulli), Eric Ripert (Le Bernadin) and Gary Danko. In July of 2011 he opened his first restaurant, Santaella, to much acclaim in the buzzing market/nightlife district of Placita. Since its opening, the restaurant has been lauded in a variety of well known culinary columns and media channels such as Departures, El Mundo (Spain), The Telegraph (UK), Ralph Lauren Magazine, NBC News, Telemundo, Food & Wine and recently in the Cooking Channel’s Avec Eric series with Eric Ripert.  Jose Santaella is the author of best-selling cookbook Cocina Tropical: The Classic and Contemporary Flavors of Puerto Rico” (Rizzoli, 2014), prologued by Eric Ripert.  Santaella is tasked with spreading awareness nationwide on Puerto Rican food and cuisine as a regional Culinary Ambassador for their North America market. Santaella’s passion for cooking began at a very early age when he cooked alongside his father, who owned several restaurants and cafeterias. His passion for cooking, tied to his unique personality, has driven him to become one of the most respected chefs in Puerto Rican cuisine.

1. What’s your regular comfort meal?

“Arroz con Habichuelas” (Rice & Beans).

2. Tell us about one Kitchen Disaster story.

Running out of gas in the middle of Friday night dinner service.

3. Do you have any kitchen battle scars?

Many burns.

4. If your last day was tomorrow, what would be your last meal?

A lot of “Beluga” caviar with good, crusty bread.

5. Who makes your favorite knife?

J.A. Henckels Knives.

6. Finish this sentence:

If I wasn’t a Chef, I would be a singer because I love to sing.

7. After a long work day, what do you do to decompress?

I watch the ocean from my apartment.

8. What do you wish you had more time to do?

Spend more time with my family.

9. Besides cooking, do you have any other talents?


10. What is your culinary “best case” scenario?

To cook in a beautiful outdoor kitchen.

Learn more about Chef Jose Santaella on his Chef’s Roll profile here.

Chef Jose Santaella will be participating at Puerto Rico Meets NYC in October 2015. Learn more about the event by clicking on the image below.