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Monday 21 July, 2014 | RSS Feed

Enrique one of the Top 10 Best New Chefs

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I'm relaxing on the colorful patio at Jose Enrique's namesake restaurant, tucked away from the buzzing streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico. A ceiling fan swirls in the heavy heat. My reverie is interrupted when a server pops open a bottle of Billecart-Salmon brut rosé and pours it into a frosted flute.

Enrique emerges from the kitchen carrying a mahimahi ceviche made with bits of passion fruit, mango, tomato and plantain chips. It's superbly fresh and tangy. "I like to use fish that's fresh off the boat," says the chef (though he'd rather be addressed simply as a cook), who is sporting a three-day-old beard, nerdy glasses and a black T-shirt emblazoned with a psychedelic print. Every day he roams the nearby mercado for fresh ingredients in order to create his daily menu, which is inspired by his finds and, more important, his mood.

Food & Wine magazine voted Enrique one of the Top 10 Best New Chefs of 2013, and he is just one of a new generation of Puerto Ricans—artists, restaurateurs and hoteliers—who are shaking up the tiny island mostly known for its low-key beaches populated by surfers. This new crowd is mixing international trends with local traditions and infusing a vibrant energy into all of Puerto Rico but more specifically into its capital, San Juan. In addition to fine restaurants, a cluster of art galleries and cultural centers has emerged, grouped in the capital city's neighborhoods of Old San Juan and hip Santurce. And for those seeking a lavish retreat after an immersion in San Juan's creative atmosphere, such luxury resorts as the Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve; the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort; and the Royal Isabela golf resort recently opened and are combining elegance and nature in the heart of the island.

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