One of Puerto Rico's top culinary talents and native chefs is revolutionizing the hotel culinary experience in San Juan as Executive Chef of Hotel El Convento. Luis Castillo, originally from Moca, Puerto Rico has revamped the menus at the hotel's signature restaurant, Patio Del Nispero, and he has also recently revived the hotel's distinctive rooftop garden, allowing him to incorporate fresh herbs and vegetables into the dishes he prepares.
Originally intending to study law, this enthusiastic chef only realized his passion for cooking after taking an impromptu part-time gig in kitchen, which immediately prompted him to shift his career course. Now, you can only find Luis in the kitchen or at the farmer's market during his free time.
In addition to managing the food and beverage programming at El Convento, Luis has appeared on Eric Ripert's Cooking Channel show "Avec Eric" and earned numerous spots on the Puerto Rico National Culinary Team, a group of top gastronomic chefs that represent Puerto Rico in international culinary competitions. During competitions in 2010 and 2014 he won individual silver medals and team gold medals. Prior to his role at El Convento, Luis held key positions at other IHE properties: La Concha, where he served as Sous Chef for the opening of Voga Italian Grill, and Condado Vanderbilt, where he worked as Sous Chef at 1919 restaurant beside nationally renowned Chef Juan Jose Cuevas as part of the hotel's pre-opening team. Previously he held positions in New York restaurants Cittanueva and The Palm Restaurant, and he has also won San Juan's local Cattleman Barbeque Competition numerous times.
Puerto Rico's culture, flavor and native tropical surroundings inspire Luis when he's creating new menus and dishes. Since El Convento is located in the heart of the island's epicenter of culture - Old San Juan - and is home to beautiful greenery, including the hotel's herb garden and a 300-year old Nispero (loquat) tree, the property enables Luis to continue evolving his culinary interests and techniques. In the hotel's outdoor Patio del Nispero, Luis combines Puerto Rico's culture, the great al fresco location, and locally inspired food, creating a unique experience for guests. In general, he prefers to use mostly Puerto Rican ingredients combined with some international techniques, demonstrating that the island is a top culinary destination.