Top Philadelphia Chefs Migrate to Paradise in Costa Rica

Two Philadelphia area residents (Dave Callan and Jeremy Allen) are part owners of a most highly rated 38 room hotel on the beautiful Pacific coast of Costa Rica, called Arenas Del Mar   Think extremely beautiful views,  fabulous tropical beaches, and wildlife, both flora and fauna. Guest comments in Trip Advisor more than confirm that this hotel is really good.

The hotel is a gem. It is the only hotel in Costa Rica with 5 stars for luxury and also 5 Leaves, awarded by the Costa Rican government for sustainability. It recently received another first by gaining its certificate for being carbon neutral.

It is situated in Manuel Antonio, at the other end of a gorgeous tropical beach from Costa Rica”™s most famous national park. Wildlife abounds on the property, birds (157 species have been counted so far!), sloths, monkeys, frogs, iguanas”¦..the list goes on. It is a bi-level hotel, half of which is located on a 150 foot cliff overlooking the Pacific and half is on the beach. Views to the northwest remind you of Big Sur, and views to the southeast are over a beautiful, curved, long tropical beach. The views, along with a cocktail at sunset, are listed in the famous book ” 1,000 things to do before you die”.

Costa Rica, however, is not known for great food. It”™s very good because fresh ingredients are so plentiful, but it is seldom great. The two partners, when stateside, are food-lovers and frequent customers of Blackfish, Chip Roman”™s acclaimed restaurant in Conshohocken. Last year in 2012 they asked themselves: could Chip help them enhance the quality of the food and dining experience in their hotel in Costa Rica. Their goal was simple. To make it the best restaurant in Costa Rica.

They posed the question to Chip who immediately said, I”™d love to try especially if I can also go deep-sea fishing in the Pacific. His wife and partner, Amanda, also encouraged him. A deal was quickly struck and Chip spent a week in Costa Rica in October 2012.

He prepared three dinners and the hotel guests were hugely appreciative, and gave Chip a standing ovation each evening. He began to train the hotel”™s kitchen staff. He went deep-sea fishing and some of the guests joined him, despite torrential rains from the outer bands of Hurricane Sandy. The experience was such a success that the hotel guests staged a reunion one month later at Blackfish, with one couple traveling from as far as Texas for the private lunch.

Dave and Jeremy began to rack their brains.  How can we do an encore? Is it repeatable or was Chip”™s event just pure good fortune?

They didn”™t have to wait long before the answers came. Jason Chichonski of Ela came straight to the point and asked why wasn”™t he invited. Brad Spence of Amis, Josh Lawler of The Farm and Fisherman and Steve Howells also of Blackfish said that they were each eager to go, as did Sean Weinberg of Alba in Malvern.  Chip Roman wants to return. And even plans to take his entire family to Arenas Del Mar this summer. Two or three other chefs are in early discussions to join this esteemed group.

Starting this spring ( May 6-10, 2013) and continuing on this fall, the plan is now for each chef to go to the hotel for one week .  In the mornings, they can each choose to go deep-sea fishing, zip-lining and white river rafting, or they can join the hotel”™s two naturalists to explore the local wildlife, or they can simply relax with a cocktail under a palm tree on the beach or on a massage table in the spa. In the afternoons they will prep dinner and train and inspire the staff. In the evenings they will do dinner service.

Given this mass migration of these top Philadelphia chefs, if anyone wants to eat really well, perhaps it would be wise to go where the chefs will be and book a trip to Arenas Del Mar, in paradise in Costa Rica.   Costs start at $330 USD per person, and room rates are being offered at $189 USD for an Ocean Breeze Superior Room and $371 USD for Ocean View premium suites, ( a savings of 30 per cent), only to participants of the resort”™s culinary program.

Contact info:

Jeremy Allen   610 407 9371   [email protected]

Hans Pfister, President of Cayuga Sustainability (the hotel”™s management company), [email protected]

Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality is a world leader in sustainable hospitality management.   We manage and market hotels, resorts, eco lodges and Haciendas in Costa Rica and Nicaragua with a focus on high end experiences and sustainability.

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