Chef Raúl Correa: Innovation, Creativity and Passion
By: CARLOS A. CORIANO & LYDIA GREGORY
During his culinary career that spans more than 17 years, chef Correa has adopted the most innovative cooking techniques, which led him to be nominated among the top 100 innovative chefs in the U.S. for the “The People’s Best New Chef 2013” of the prestigious FOOD & WINE® magazine. In 2012, Chef Correa, the Water Club and Zest restaurant were featured in an article published on the FOOD & WINE® website called “Puerto Rico’s New Promise,” written by journalist Josh Eells; the piece served as the inspiration for this important nomination.
The Zest Experience
The brainchild of Executive Chef Raúl Correa, Zest welcomes you to a unique culinary experience – an amazing sub-aquatic atmosphere featuring special visual effects include dancing ripples on the walls; ceiling simulating the surface of the ocean; illuminated floors and a cascade waterfall by the bar. The restaurant features a new Puerto Rican cuisine menu – a unique mix of island cooking and haute cuisine using fresh, locally grown ingredients.
At Zest, the bread basket comes with a serving of the traditional pan sobao, that slightly sweet staple of bakeries all over the island, only Chef Correa has given it a makeover: his version is similar to the German baker’s Pumpernickel, made with brown sugar, cocoa powder and silky duck fat, a tasty and rare ingredient. Butter? Yes, please: made daily with fresh cream, cilantro and roasted garlic, it’s the perfect complement to the pan sobao.
While Zest’s menu offers the most eclectic tastes of the international cuisine – including a repertoire of vegetarian dishes – according to chef Correa, the essence of the restaurant is in the “Puerto Rican flavor.” For example, on the one hand, the menu includes an innovative soup of popcorn with truffle butter and rosemary, and on the other hand, an amuse-bouche of chicharrón lightly seasoned to perfection.
Chef Correa’s Popcorn Soup
For the main course, the Chef recommends the seabass marinated in miso accompanied by vegetables, eggplant foam and green papaya compote, and as a vegetarian option, the paella with Israeli couscous and vegetables served with tostones (fried plantain). For dessert, sample his version of the tembleque: coconut panacotta accompanied by pineapple sorbet, raisins marinated in rum and a crispy almond phyllo.
So, how does Chef Correa define his “modern Puerto Rican cuisine”? “It is bold, innovative, irreverent but never, ever disrespectful. And every single bite is absolutely… Delicious.”