A native of Puerto Rico, Chef Raul Correa developed his passion for food while watching his uncle cook. “What impressed me the most was the he was a man but he was an excellent cook,” said Correa. It was in 1995 at the age of 18 that Correa started his culinary career while working as Kitchen Supervisor at the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. He worked his way up quickly through the ranks to Executive Chef at some of the finest hotels in Puerto Rico, including the legendary Normandie Hotel. Correa’s knowledge of local and international cuisine as well as every aspect of kitchen operation and restaurant management led him to start his own food consulting company, Boutique Cuisine Catering and Kitchen Management in 2009. In 2011, Correa became Chef-Instructor at Puerto Rico’s renowned Escuela Hotelera.
In 2012, Chef Correa’s expertise and creative talent led him to become the culinary force behind Zest restaurant, located in the San Juan Water Beach Club Hotel in Isla Verde, Puerto Rico. Featuring an amazing sub-aquatic atmosphere, Zest’s special visual effects include dancing ripples on the walls; ceiling simulating the surface of the ocean; illuminated floors, and a 60 ft. cascade waterfall by the bar. The brainchild of Chef Correa, Zest offers a Modern Puerto Rican & Latin American cuisine menu influenced from a global perspective and paying a tribute to Puerto Rico’s culinary heritage by primarily using locally sourced, seasonal products.
Strongly committed to supporting local farmers, Zest’s exquisite culinary creativity makes perfect use of the freshest local ingredients available. Chef Correa’s menu exudes innovation and sophistication featuring dishes including famous amuse-bouches such as popcorn soup with truffle butter and rosemary or the chicharrón (fried pork skin) lightly seasoned to perfection; main courses including sea bass marinated in miso accompanied by vegetables, eggplant foam and green papaya compote; and for dessert, his version of the traditional island tembleque: coconut panacotta accompanied by pineapple sorbet, raisins marinated in rum and a crispy almond phyllo.
Giving back to the community by donating his culinary talent and time is a passion of Chef Correa. On his personal time, Chef Correa participates in cooking fundraisers for two charities close to his heart: SER DE PUERTO RICO, whose mission is to provide exceptional services to ensure that people with disabilities or with autism and their families have equal opportunities in their communities to enjoy life, education, job opportunities, and have fun and HOGAR TERESA TODA, whose mission is to provide girls and young women victims of abuse and negligence a permanent home where they can live surrounded by love and protection.
Chef Correa’s culinary expertise, creativity, innovation and passion have earned him prestigious awards and accolades including:
- Restaurateur of the Year 2016 award by the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association (PRHTA) Tourism Industry Super Stars Awards
- Inclusion in the 2015 edition of “Where Chefs Eat: A Guide to Chefs’ Favourite Restaurants” published by Phaidon Press
- Chairman of the Puerto Rico Hotel & Tourism Association’s Restaurant Committee – 2015
- Nominated for “The People’s Best New Chef 2014” by GASTRONÓMICO / El VOCERO
- “Manager of the Year” in the Restaurant Category – Puerto Rico Hotel & Tourism Association 2014
- Silver Medal in “Chef of the Year” category – Taste of the Caribbean 2014
- Gold Medal in “Best Culinary Team in the Caribbean” – Taste of the Caribbean 2014
- Captain of the Puerto Rico Culinary Team 2014
- Selected for the Puerto Rico Culinary Team 2014
- Puerto Rico’s Top Chef 2014 – FoodiesPR.com
- Nominated for FOOD & WINE magazine’s the “People’s Best New Chef 2013”
- Cattlemen’s Chef Challenge Champion in 2008