Are you up for a new culinary adventure through the highlands of Costa Rica? Now you can have one without leaving Finca Rosa Blanca. Our newly appointed chef, Ruben Villegas, has brought creative Latin fusion cuisine to our resort’s acclaimed restaurant, El Tigre Vestido.
Chef Ruben’s culinary journey has been extraordinary. He began at the age of 17, working in a large hotel kitchen and attending culinary classes. He worked his way up to sous chef in several notable kitchens and then moved to Peru to study at the Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Lima, where he graduated with the highest degree, Master Cuisine. In Lima, Chef Ruben worked with Virgilio Martinez, the star chef and owner of Central, consistently rated as one of the world’s top restaurants. He recently returned to Costa Rica to pursue his career as an innovative chef using the latest techniques and trends from his work abroad, and blending them with the abundance of fresh ingredients to be found in Costa Rica.
Finca Rosa Blanca was built with the goal of creating an ecological haven and a sustainable tourism destination in an aesthetic environment for visitors who want to experience the biodiversity of Costa Rica. Sustainably sourced food served at El Tigre Vestido is one of the most attractive aspects of staying at our resort. Now Chef Ruben has taken the culinary offering up a notch with his novel interpretations of Costa Rica’s heritage recipes.
“I love the slow food movement, which combines sustainability and good management of Costa Rica’s raw materials to create a Latin fusion cuisine. My approach is to apply the new culinary tendencies found in European gastronomy to Costa Rican and Latin mainstays,” says Chef Ruben. “The idea is to showcase the right pairing of textures and flavors that also looks beautiful.”
Most everything that the restaurant uses to create Chef Ruben’s dishes is handcrafted and locally sourced, except for the impossible (like olive oil and wine). We tap nature’s bounty for ingredients – think Surinam cherries, sugarcane, avocados, soursop, beans, breadfruit, star apple, chayote, chiles, mangos, water apples – the list is endless… We even make our own banana vinegar from guineos, a type of banana used for stews in Costa Rica.
Chef Ruben has brought exciting twists to El Tigre Vestido’s menu. One of his signature dishes is chifrijo soup based on the namesake Costa Rican classic typically eaten in bars to keep the alcohol at bay; this popular layered dish of rice topped with black beans, chicharrones (twice-fried pork bits) and pico de gallo (tomato salsa with onion, cilantro, and lemon) is served with fresh tortilla chips and avocado. Chef Ruben has also taken the traditional casado (which translated literally means “married”) and given it a Latin fusion twist. Found in nearly any small restaurant serving typical Costa Rican dishes across the country, it is usually a pairing of white rice with a side of savory black beans, a picadillo (chopped and sautéed potato or other root vegetable) and fish, chicken and beef smothered in sautéed onions or a fried egg.
The Chef has added a roasted beet and chayote salad, plantains sautéed in coffee and molasses and a picadillo replete with pulled beef and papaya root. Another exciting reinterpretation is Chef Ruben’s version of Costa Rican tacos called gallos; these soft handmade tacos are topped with a choice of fresh sea bass or chicharrones and crowned with a citric salad of fennel, cabbage and chayote. Another highlight is his octopus carpaccio and the tiraditos featuring fresh sea bass with fresh lime juice and capers.