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You can know a Chef’s personality by tasting his dishes. Edgy, attentive, creative or classical; each dish describes a lot about his past, present and future. We met up with Executive Chef Carlos Villa at Bahía Marina Condo-Resort and confirmed this En Culebra Magazine theory.
Always hungry for knowledge (Chef Villa finished his bachelor’s degree in Johnson & Wales University at the North Miami Campus) he references recipes to develop his menus in a variety of cook books, or what he calls his “bibles”, (Peruvian, Japanese, Brazilian, French) that he’s collected throughout his career. These, and practically everything he sees, hears, or touches inspires him to develop his Caribbean International Cuisine, influenced in New World Cuisine. Nonetheless, this Executive Chef is keen on the fact that the best knowledge is acquired from experience, in each kitchen.
When you taste Chef Villa’s food, you cannot help but live it. His dishes evoke the senses, and he likes it that way. When he designs a plate, he wants you to see, smell, taste, touch, and even hear (as he does). With him, no two plates are the same. “I try to improve every plate, every time”, says the passionate Chef. We had the chance to taste a couple of dishes of his Latin Fusion/Fine Dining Cuisine in Bahía Marina’s Dakity Restaurant. A Surf and Turf made with melt-off-the-bone pork ribs and tempura jumbo shrimp covered with a pineapple/coconut chutney (this comes from his days as a Chef in famous Sushi Samba’s Miami and Dallas restaurants). But it doesn’t stop there, an incredible lick-the-plate risotto di frutti di mare (one of his specialties), made with fish, mussels, shrimp, and calamari, with burst-in-yourmouth flavor in each bite. He changes his menus on a monthly basis, looking for trends and dining at different restaurants when he travels to get inspired for his menus or spending time at Culebra’s beaches, which inspires him also.
After 15 years outside of Puerto Rico he wanted to return home, and an opportunity arrived to help an old college friend in her kitchen in Culebra. Of course, Culebra’s lifestyle and charm appealed to him, making him return and work here, now as an Executive Chef in Bahía Marina. “I respect the other Chef’s in Culebra. We all have our style, but what I serve here in Culebra is not offered anywhere else on the Island”, he confidently states. With his kitchen staff, culebrenses Luis Joel Rosario and Harold López Munet (of whom he is very proud of), he engages on a nightly race to outdo himself. His mission: to lure people from the USVI and Puerto Rico to come to Culebra and taste his cuisine, and creating different dining events thus helping, in his own delicious way, the tourism in the Island.
Some of Chef Carlos Villa's past kitchens: