San Juan, Puerto Rico’s Caribe Hilton Livens Things Up with New Executive Chef
Executive Chef Issac Pacheco is no stranger to the Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In fact, he started his career as an apprentice over 20 years ago at that very property.
He cut his teeth and earned his culinary stripes while working at a multitude of venues including the Loews Royal Pacific Resort in Universal Orlando where he was responsible for leading and supporting kitchen operations for the company's seven restaurants; The Peabody Orlando; Omni Orlando Resort & Golf Club; Fisher Island Club Miami; Miami's Ritz Carlton; Westin Diplomat Resort; Fontainebleau Miami and St. Regis Hotel Houston.
With such varied and unique experiences in his arsenal, he was called home to the Caribe Hilton in 2015— but this time as their new executive chef.
After a nationwide search for an executive chef whose responsibilities include looking after nine different restaurant concepts, Pacheco wowed hotel executives with his innovative yet simple cooking that is now the hallmark of the hotel. He also marks the first time in the hotel's history that the executive chef is a native Puerto Rican. “The Hilton started my passion and love for this industry,” he told The Daily Meal.
Pacheco understands the value of knowing where the food he serves his guests originates from and that's why almost all of the menu items are locally sourced in Puerto Rico, he told us. The hotel works with four regional farmers who are dedicated to providing all of the food for the hotel, which is sustainable and often organic.
If you stop to consider it, farming for the hotel property itself is no easy fete, he explained. The farmers produce over 6,000 pounds of food per year, he explained. Many of the local herbs and vegetables such as cilantro, basil and mixed greens are organically farmed and can be found within many of the dishes on the menus for all of the nine restaurants.
This chef truly understands how to cater to the masses, and for those looking for an easy and comfortable dining experience, he also injects his creative flair throughout. Each morning at the breakfast buffet in the hotel, guests can choose from a multitude of juices made with local papaya, guava, sour sop, tamarind, green juice and watermelon among many other fruits.
Chef Pacheo also showcases the local sustainable seafood in dishes like braised octopus paired with sweet plantain escabeche and a chicharron volao dust or the Hamachi with aji amarillo-conconut-choclo.
For those who are also looking to explore beyond the confines of the hotel property, there is the newly-opened Paseo Caribe connected to the hotel that offers several different restaurants, shops and an Eataly-style food market concept called El Mercado. El Mercado was created in the style of many international food halls, as a place with several different food and beverage concepts, as well as being a meeting place for hotel guests and locals alike to come together around good food and music.
The Caribe Hilton and Paseo Caribe continue to expand and reinvent itself with new ways to cater to a growing food-obsessed culture who simply believe in traveling for a good meal and a new adventure.