Lamb ribs with a salad of fresh pigeon peas, celery, papaya, passion fruit leaves, “chironja” juice and roasted chard
Gabriel Hernández is the Executive Chef at Verde Mesa, a restaurant established 11 years ago in Old San Juan. Moreover, he is a pioneer in revitalizing the use of local products. Chef Gabriel was nominated as a semifinalist in the Best Chef of the South category by the James Beard Foundation in 2018.
As a younger cook, García dedicated himself to cooking Kosher-style while having the opportunity to work as part of the kitchen staff of the well-known restaurant Nobu in Miami. Also, he worked as a volunteer in farms in California, where he enriched his knowledge of crop management, artisanal cheeses production, and animal breeding. Back in Puerto Rico, he joined Verde Mesa restaurant, taking on various positions in the kitchen. After this experience, he began his personal project AgroCocina, a space dedicated to cooking products gathered from the garden; always working in a sustainable line with Giomara La Quay, co-owner and farmer.
Lobster “Asopao” with plantain balls
UNDERGROUND DINING CLUB
María Mercedes Grubb graduated from the French Culinary Institute in New York City where she also acquired years of experience from restaurants like The Modern, Maialino, Pastis. In 2013, María and her brother opened Gallo Negro in Santurce. In 2019, Chef María Mercedes became the first woman in the Puerto Rican culinary industry to be nominated for the James Beard Foundation Best Chef Award. She was also chosen by Food & Wine Magazine as one of the best chefs leading the Puerto Rican culinary renaissance.
Natalia Lucía Vallejo Rivera began her studies in Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. In 2007, she traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina to begin her culinary studies, where she graduated as a Professional in Culinary Arts. In 2019, she opened Cocina Al Fondo in Santurce, Puerto Rico, which was nominated for the Best New Restaurant Award by the James Beard Foundation.
Pumpkin curry with turmeric, coconut milk and cauliflower. Served with spicy cilantro sauce and tamarind-date chutney
After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in Upstate New York, Francis worked in several high cuisine restaurants in San Francisco. After 4 years, he moved to New York City where he worked at Blue Hill and later as sous-chef at the Two Michelin Star rated restaurant, The Modern.
In 2018, Francis and his wife Amelia opened Vianda in Santurce, where they serve a small and constantly-evolving menu, always anchored by local ingredients
Lucía Merino was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Lucía is a pastry chef with over 15 years of experience in the industry and is the co-founder of Lucía Patisserie in Miramar. She completed her education in Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University and after an inspiring job under Master Pastry Chef Frederic Monet at the Ritz Carlton, her love and passion for classic French pastries blossomed.
She continued to learn and develop her techniques while working with renowned chefs such as Antonio Bachour, Jordi Valles, and Richard Grasand in hotels (St. Regis Hotel and Fontainebleau Hotel), and also restaurants in Miami, Madrid, Barcelona, and finally, Dallas, where she received a nomination for "Best Pastry Chef."
Full of inspiration from her travels and experiences, Lucía returned to Puerto Rico in 2015 with her husband, Johan, to open what they always dreamed of — a pastry shop where they could offer classic French confections as well as incorporate typical island flavors and ingredients.
Carlos M. Meléndez & María C. Umpierre
Diana Pérez & Blas Fonalledas
Drs. Liliana M. Arabía & Félix V. Matos Rodríguez
Herb Allen & Mónica de la Torre
Jose Rafael & Marechy Fernández
Lisette Núñez & William Berry
Luis A. Ferré Rangel, Dr. Sarah E. Bird & Isabel Ferré Sadurní