Meet the talented chefs of Costa Ballena and its restaurants and cafés. In the South Pacific region of Costa Rica, everyone will find their taste!
On the evening of June 11, 2022, Kevin Chaves of Le French Café and Kevin Charpentier, the guest chef from San José, delighted us with their creative four-hand seven-course menu at the select French restaurant in Uvita. The intention was to recreate the gastronomy of the South of Costa Rica with unique dishes combining traditional and ancestral ingredients, using modern cuisine techniques, giving it a sophisticated touch.
Thanks to the initiative of the young gastronome and owner of Le French Café, Simon Michel-x, new exciting experiences are available in the South of Costa Rica. They will hold 4-hand events regularly, inviting colleagues from the culinary arts.
We interviewed well-being chef Mayron at the magnificent nFusion Bistro on the terrace of the Villas Alturas Hotel. The location, with its beautiful views over the jungle, the sea, and the rocks, is unique. nFusion Chef Mayron is from the new generation that loves to create, merging Costa Rican recipes with international ones, always with fresh local ingredients, resulting in exquisite signature dishes. He has studied Gastronomy and Nutrition at the Le Cordon Bleu Peru Institute and ANCH (Costa Rica National Chef Association).
Says Mayron: "I feel love for fire in my culinary laboratory; it gives me adrenaline or pure excitement; cooking is something very cultural, holistic, art and science, food is food and medicine at the same time. My food is made with love."
Check out one of his recipes here.
Massimo Capra’s insignia is his great mustache. However, he didn’t reach his fame thanks to this notable feature. Massimo Capra is one of the most celebrated chefs in Canada, where he has been working and living since 1982. His renowned restaurant Capra’s kitchen in Mississauga, Ontario, opened in 2016 and offers innovative Italian cuisine with recipes created by Massimo himself.
If you believed that Costa Rican cuisine is made up of rice and beans, then chef Marcella Marciano and her collaborators, chefs Fabián Barrantes and Jose Calderón, managed to vindicate this verdict during their first “Costa Muy Rica” gastronomy event.
Just to mention a few highlights of the eight dish menú: starting with a Chiliguaro shot and fresh Puntarenas oyster, Fish & palm fruit ceviche, fried Green plantain, palm fruit mousse, Green papaya, and zorillo picadillo served with a cheese-filled tortilla, and finally an incredible crunchy Chocolate sphere as a dessert.
Philippe and Mireille, owners of Pancito Café, are well known in Ojochal. Early in the morning, delicious aromas emanate from the place, the smell of fresh bread, croissants, and freshly brewed coffee. They serve breakfast and lunch on the large terrace overlooking the garden, covered with lush vegetation and the river just passing by.
Guillermo Saenz, alias Memo, is Chef at “La Palapa Restaurant”, Hotel Cuna del Ángel. Chef Memo has a long history as a gastronome, trained in Spain and Italy.
He worked for several years in well-known international restaurants in San José. This allowed him to create an expansive vision of high end-cuisine and legendary dishes fused with tropical ingredients from Costa Rica.
In 2011, he moved to Costa Ballena to dedicate his expertise to La Palapa Restaurant at the enchanting Cuna del Ángel Hotel.
Liz (originally from Pérez Zeledón) used to run a coffee-ice cream parlor in Buenos Aires before coming to Ojochal in 2012. Liz is a sportswoman who loves to run, and her first concern when she arrived was if there was a women's soccer team. She found the Playa Hermosa Futbol Sala team that used to meet at the ”Cancha Sintética” in Uvita.
In 2014 she started working at the Ballena Bistro as the right hand of the owner and chef Anja Sonnenberg. When Anja decided to seek other horizons, in April 2018, Liz grasped the opportunity to take over the restaurant. With her innate friendliness and splendid customer service, she has demonstrated being an extraordinary host and a good leader of her small operations team.
Carly and Eric Hara left behind a 15-hour daily routine and a hectic lifestyle in New York. Following their dream and traveling through many places, they came to Costa Rica to retire and spend more time with their children.
Eric is a renowned chef from NYC. He and Carly worked in the gastronomic industry for more than a decade. So, their “retirement” did not last more than six months. They found an ideal place for Eric to keep himself busy in the kitchen.
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For 5 years the Hosue of Ginger Chinese food restaurant owner lived with her husband and three children in Canada. “I’ve always had a passion for cooking,” she says. “When we lost my husband, I had to find a way to make a living. So I did, and we decided to return to Costa Rica. I took a cooking course with the Chef of the Chinese Embassy in San José. ”
To find a GastroPub in the magnificent Chirripo’s mountain skirts was quite a surprise. Meeting David, the owner of the successful establishment along with his large family, was another. “GastroPub” is an innovative business concept where haute cuisine tapas are served at affordable prices.
Also, every Saturday David participates in the Uvita Fair where he delivers bread to many clients on the beach. Enjoy the excellent teamwork of the Navarro Elizondo family!
In March 2018, Juan Pablo Álvarez, executive chef of the Castillo’s Kitchen Restaurant in Ojochal, traveled with Mr. William Ortíz, president of ANCH, and Roberto Guillen, a young chef who also belongs to the Board of Directors of ANCH, to Lima, Peru. He participated in the Jatum Culinary Championship.
Pablo’s purpose is to encourage other youth to enroll in ANCH so they can participate in the training. Eventually, he would like to bring or create a Gastronomy School in the South Pacific in collaboration with INA (National Learning Institute).
Sibu Coffee House is a family business; Attila and Mariana, who are husband and wife, coffee lovers and quite knowledgeable about it, are its owners. They have 3 kids, and the oldest, David, often helps out at the restaurant attending to the customers. He does it with the same friendliness that characterizes everyone on Sibu’s personnel.
Today, we came to chat with two culinary artists, Román and Pablo, father and son. Both became well-known for their fine cuisine at several famous restaurants of Costa Ballena. Recently, they started working together at the Vista Ballena Hotel, complementing each other’s cooking skills.
Román recalls when Pablo was only 12 years old, he put on an apron and prepared the best rice with seafood. Pablo worked for years at a vegetarian restaurant in Dominical where he prepared the best healthy recipes.
Crystal and her husband Michael are entrepreneurs from California; they are the owners of Patrón’s Bar and Restaurant in Dominical. Crystal explained why Patron’s is so special: “Our chef has experience with Michelin star restaurants; it guarantees our menu will please the most refined palate; additionally, our staff is from Costa Ballena and, proudly provides excellent service to our customers.”
“I can’t stand people who don’t take food seriously. And for the record, it's not us who say this, Oscar Wilde said it,” the owners Luca and Francesca declare when greeting us at their Italian Restaurant Gusto. The first impression is the cordial welcome and then we are captivated by the 180-degree view over creation.
The menu offers a variety of pasta, meats, and fish. The preparation is made with the freshest products from the organic markets, as well as with the spices, olive oil, cheeses, and wines that they import from Italy. “We prepare light and healthy food according to the best Italian recipes,” says Francesca.
Congratulations to Rocío Chaverri and Juan José Barrantes (Jota) for bringing Japanese flavors to Uvita. The atmosphere is exquisite, the flavors, the attention, the drink, and the food!
Rocio and Jota are the owners of the successful Sushi in Dominical and decided to open another Sushi-Restaurant, in Uvita. “To be closer to our customers and very grateful for their support for so many years, we decided to open a second restaurant in Uvita, the Mystic Sushi”, said Rocío.
Estiven Arias, owner, and chef of La Costeña graduated in Food and Beverage Administration, Restaurants and Hospitality at UTUR and INA. He also completed courses in barista, professional bartender, and Hawaiian Tiki cocktails. At the age of 14, he participated in a student exchange in the USA, and later, thanks to his good knowledge of English, he had the opportunity to work on a cruise ship in the United States. Returning to Costa Rica, he worked for several years in boutique hotels in Quepos and the South Pacific. Above all, Uvita attracted him, reminding himself of the happy vacations he had spent here as a child.
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I had the opportunity to take a Caño Island tour. Since I was a little kid, I have loved swimming in the ocean and looking out for all the sea creatures.
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What to do, Where to eat and Where to stay…
- Activities and Tours
- Whale Watching Tour
- Natural Attractions
- Marino Ballena National Park
- Hotels and Accommodations