As a follow-up to our previous post, Puerto Rican Food, beyond Rice and Beans, this article underlines Puerto Rico’s restaurant scene, which continues to attract global attention as the government’s tourism agency touts the island as a dining destination, as Caribbean Business PR reports. The article highlights a new late-night hotspot called Oceano, which The Food Network featured recently in its latest episode of “Chef Wanted.”
Oceano, owned by Todd Berman, is a trendy oceanfront eatery and lounge located at 2 Vendig Street in the famous Condado section of San Juan, Puerto Rico. It includes a state-of-the art restaurant, the more casual Brisas lounge, La Playa Bar (outdoors), and a private roof-top area called the Luna.
Description: Show host Anne Burrell [brought] in four potential chef candidates for the eatery in the heart of San Juan’s Condado tourism district. The competitors for the top job at Oceano are challenged to create two dishes: a gourmet version of a traditional Puerto Rican dish and a signature “sexy” dish for Oceano’s menu. The two remaining chefs face the toughest test, running dinner service for an evening: One chef has to battle differences with the kitchen staff, while the other makes an executive decision that turns their hopes around. The episode [aired] on the Food Network [last] Sunday night at 10 p.m.
Follow-up (Food Network): Anne Burrell and the Chef Wanted team were brought in to help with the search. After two difficult tests and two very different dinner services, an offer was extended to Chef Austin Henry. Chef Henry considers himself the James Bond of the kitchen. He’s traveled the world and is familiar with many different cuisines and languages. Oceano is the perfect opportunity for Chef Henry to move up in his culinary career.
At first Chef Henry had a rough start. He almost served his mofongo dish with undercooked pork, but rectified the issue just in time. For his second “sexy” dish, he had to change course from scallops to shrimp when he realized the scallops wouldn’t sear properly. When it came to dinner service, he succeeded at rallying support from the restaurant staff, and except for getting frustrated over frozen pork and some expediting problems, the service was successful. Despite his lack of experience with Puerto Rican cuisine, his menu incorporated characteristic island flavors and got rave reviews from the guests. In the end, Chef Henry was offered the executive chef position because of his great food and natural leadership in the kitchen.
For more on Oceano, see http://oceanopr.com/html/oceano__condado___lounge__rest2.html
To read the full article, “Puerto Rican food, beyond rice and beans,” see http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/puerto-rican-food-beyond-rice-and-beans/2013/02/14/3228147c-722d-11e2-ac36-3d8d9dcaa2e2_story.html