A talk with Luciano Riotti: Executive chef at Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat as well as adventurer and TV personality!

Luciano Riotti, Executive chef at Luc’s Seafood Grill & Chapa, Restaurant at Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat, Photo credit lucianoriotti
Luc’s Seafood Grill & Chapa, Restaurant at Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat
Luc’s Seafood Grill & Chapa, Restaurant at Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat

“Luc’s Seafood Grill & Chapa” is Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat’s new restaurant in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica.  Their executive chef Luciano tells us a bit about his inspiration for the menus, his background, and the benefits of working at such a magnificent location.

 

Where does the concept for “Luc’s Seafood Grill & Chapa” come from, what was your inspiration?

The concept of Luc’s arises from the need to offer the local market an innovative proposal, where sea and land produce (surf n turf) are combined with our wood-burning grill.

Our inspiration comes from the gauchos (Argentinian cowboys) of the Pampas plains of Argentina, fused together with the local fishing culture.  This allows us to work with products of the highest quality and freshness.  We are also always in search of local ingredients to provide our clients with a culinary experience with Costa Rican foundations.

Fresh seafood dish at Luc’s Seafood Grill & Chapa, photo credit by lucianoriotti
Fresh seafood dish at Luc’s Seafood Grill & Chapa, photo credit by lucianoriotti

Tell me a little bit about your educational background and work experience.

I started working at the age of 16.  It started as a hobby which soon turned into a profession.  I studied Culinary Arts in Buenos Aires, Argentina and years later completed a Master’s Degree at “Le Cordon Bleu”, specializing in Peruvian and French Cuisine.  I worked for a time in Colombia and Perú, but mainly developed professionally in Argentina.  For three years I participated in various television shows for the Latin American channels Utilisima and Fox Life.  I owned a pastry shop in Buenos Aires and did consulting for restaurants helping to develop their menus and training personnel.

One of the dishes at Luc’s Seafood Grill & Chapa, photo credit by lucianoriotti
One of the dishes at Luc’s Seafood Grill & Chapa, photo credit by lucianoriotti

What brought you to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica?

Coming to Santa Teresa was all by chance.  I was preparing to move to New Zealand but was unable to travel at the last minute because there were no longer any visas available for that year.  As all of my house had either been sold or put in boxes, I contacted a friend who was already living here.  Two months later I was flying to Costa Rica! I did not expect to find such a paradise, a stroke of luck indeed!

Fresh lobsters arriving at Luc’s Seafood Grill & Chapa, photo credit by lucianoriotti
Fresh lobsters arriving at Luc’s Seafood Grill & Chapa, photo credit by lucianoriotti

What role does the seasonality of products play in the creation of the menu?

The seasonality of products plays a leading role in the menu creation so we are able to offer quality and freshness as well as support local industry.  Many of our suppliers are independent and their livelihood depends on commodities which vary throughout the year.  The fish we serve vary depending on their migratory seasons, so we are constantly in flux.  We also use eggs from free range chickens which are produced a short distance away from the hotel at a farm born as a project to provide employment assistance to people in the area.  Fruit and vegetables we receive from all over the country, always respecting their seasonality.

Fresh fruit pastry creation at Luc’s Seafood Grill & Chapa, photo credit by lucianoriotti
Fresh fruit pastry creation at Luc’s Seafood Grill & Chapa, photo credit by lucianoriotti

How often do you plan in varying the menu?

Apart from being subjected to availability of local produce, our geographical location also plays an important role.  We look for continuity in products of great acceptance, but we are also motivated to innovate and surprise our customers.

 

Have you contemplated special diet needs in the creation of your dishes?

Even though Luc’s targets an audience in search of seafood, Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat is a hotel whose concept targets yoga and a healthy lifestyle.  For this reason, you can find vegan and vegetarian dishes on our menu, we well as gluten and dairy free options.  Our bar offers shakes made on the spot with fresh juices and fruit, as well as superfood smoothies for nutrition lovers.

LLuciano Riotti, Executive chef at Luc’s Seafood Grill & Chapa, Restaurant at Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat, Photo credit lucianoriotti
Luciano Riotti, Executive chef at Luc’s Seafood Grill & Chapa, Restaurant at Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat, Photo credit lucianoriotti

Another wonderful reason to visit Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat, to experience the culinary artistry of such an experienced and creative chef with only the best ingredients to work with.

 

Article by Katie Widdowson

 

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