‘Culinary Passport’ returns to Puerto Rico’s La Concha Resort
Event that includes seminars, tastings, meals and outings with 5 renowned chefs takes place May 2-5
SAN JUAN – For a second time, the La Concha Resort in San Juan will hold its “Culinary Passport” event, an epicurean getaway, May 2-5, of cooking classes, tastings, meals and outings with five internationally renowned chefs.
The agenda includes six exclusive activities with guest chefs Mario Pagán and Juan Peña of Puerto Rico, who will accompany hostess Erika Gómez, La Concha’s executive chef. Also, from Miami, Gilles Epié, the youngest chef to obtain a Michelin Star; from Brazil, Didier Labbé, who has won two Michelin Stars; and from Los Angeles, Ludovic Lefebvre, who was conferred the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres award from his home country, France.
“Culinary Passport will be a weekend of lifestyle activities for the food lover, with the uniqueness of having been thought of as a more intimate experience, rather than a massive event,” José C. Padín, the resort’s general manager, explained in the announcing statement.
The event kicks off Thursday, May 2, with a private reception where participants can meet the guest chefs while enjoying a special menu prepared by host chef Gómez. For the occasion, La Concha’s Mixed Troupe mixologists will be preparing botanical cocktails using aromatic herbs and spices to enhance flavor.
The next day, “A Day with the Chefs,” will include several outing options to tour different points of the island in the company of the culinary professionals. When night falls, a cookout under the stars where each chef will show off their culinary magic at their personal stations, will result in food feast from around the world.
The agenda continues Saturday, May 4, with three cooking seminars of two dishes each: marinated herring and spicy lobster, by Épié; mussels a la marinière with Vadouvan spices, charred country bread, beet tartare toast, lime and avocado milk, by Lefebvre; and fish “Moqueca” and duck breast with sweet potato, caju and acerola sauce, by Labbé. Each two-hour demonstration culminates with a tasting of the elaborate dishes, as well as wines.
Meanwhile, the “Culinary Masters’ Dinner Experience,” a six-course lineup and wine-pairing event, gathers the six chefs, all of whom will concoct dishes inspired by seasonal ingredients in Puerto Rico. There will also be book signings with the chefs and photo opportunities.
On Sunday, which is Cinco de Mayo, when Mexican-American culture is celebrated, a special fiesta brunch that can be savored with a tequila sangria will be served by Gómez and her team to cap off the four days of culinary experiences.
Guests can customize their calendar by individually selecting the activities that interest them or opt for the full experience. Although there is no deadline for registration, book as soon as possible is recommended because space is limited, La Concha spokeswoman Nelly Cruz told CB en Español.
The resort has a three-day and two-night stay package for two adults. Rates depend on the room chosen and availability. The activities include: a reception, outings, outdoor dinner, a cooking class, six-course and wine-pairing dinner, and brunch as well as a memento.
About the chefs
Chef Érika Gómez, who defines her cuisine as a classic and influenced by French techniques, began her studies at Escuela Hotelera de San Juan, and an internship at the Ritz-Carlton, San Juan, where she was hired that same year. In 2007, she was promoted to sous-chef at BLT Steak, where she also coordinated special events. In 2011, she was hired as sous-chef of La Concha’s culinary team, in charge of buffets, as well as restaurants Komakai and Solera. Her work led to her appointment as the resort’s executive chef.
Chef Juan Peña, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of Puerto Rico, perfected his art under the tutelage of Jean Georges Vongerichten and Daniel Bouloud, among others. His career has seen him stand out in haute cuisine restaurants such as Trois Cent Onze in Old San Juan, Daniel in New York and St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort’s Fern. He currently heads Almaviva in Condado, where he combines French cuisine he learned from the masters with the use of local seasonal ingredients.
Chef Mario Pagán is of international renown as the Puerto Rican chef who participated in Food Network’s “The Next Iron Chef.” A graduate of Johnson & Wales University, he perfected his skills under greats such as Pascal Oudin; Norman Van Aken, whom he considers his mentor; and Alfredo Ayala. One of his most recent collaborations has been with Chef José Andrés, promoting awareness and support for World Central Kitchen. He owns three restaurants: Mario Pagán, Sage and Raya.
Chef Gilles Epié took his first steps in the culinary world at age 14 under the tutelage of Alain Senderens, and was awarded a Michelin Star when only 22 years old. Three decades later, he still holds the record for the youngest chef to have received one. Throughout his career, he has been the talent behind some of the most successful restaurants stateside and in his native France, such as L’Orangerie in Los Angeles and Citrus Étoile in Paris. He has cooked for presidents, royalty and celebrities; has been an “Iron Chef” judge; and is a correspondent for the BBC.
Chef Ludo Lefebvre, who trained with masters in France such as Marc Meneau, Pierre Gagnaire and Alain Passard is one of the most influential chefs in Los Angeles and is a culinary authority around the world. He created the LudoBites concept, a multi-city culinary tour that received critical acclaim, as do his trio of restaurants: Trois Mec, Petit Trois and Trois Familia. He is the author of cookbooks “Crave: The Feast of the Five Senses” and “LudoBites: Recipes and Stories from the Pop-Up Restaurants of Ludo Lefebvre.”
Chef Didier Labbé was the talent behind Clémentine in San Francisco, winner of the Michelin Bib Gourmand award and listed seven consecutive years on the San Francisco Chronicle’s “Top 100 Restaurants.” His career led him to collaborate with talents such as Gerard Vié, Alain Passard, Wolfgang Puck and Epié, among others. In August, he opened Didier in Rio de Janeiro, which was recognized with four Globo News Stars.
The La Concha package requires a minimum three-night stay. Only one cooking seminar is included in the package but an additional seminar can be booked. Gratuities are not included. Unused portions of the package cannot be refunded. A third and fourth adult in the room would pay $30 each added to the rate. The package cannot be combined with groups or other promotions and is subject to availability. Other restrictions may apply.