Take your pick: shrimp tempura served with red coconut sauce, vegetarian spring rolls dipped in peanut dressing or Asian meatballs with a chef ’s special tamarind glaze. Rodrigo Núñez, the new executive chef at Flamingo Beach Resort in the northwestern province of Guanacaste, is freshly preparing all of these mouthwatering options.
Resort guests and visitors can now spend quiet evenings sampling the delicious international cuisine of Chef Núñez at Catalinas restaurant. Núñez has more than 25 years of experience preparing food, and brings international, healthy and beautifully designed dishes to the table.
On March 11, Núñez showcased his new menu to area residents and friends at Catalinas. As glasses were filled with wine, servers came out with heaping plates of edamame (Japanese steamed soybeans), salad skewers, tomato mozzarella pizza, calamari with spicy marinara or garlic-cilantro sauce and other scrumptious appetizers. Núñez’s cooking demonstration for his dry penne pasta in pink vodka sauce looked a little like juggling – seemingly easy, but clearly an exercise demanding special talent. To finish off the evening, an elegant display of pastry puffs, bread pudding and fresh fruit – ¡qué rico!
Born in San José, Núñez grew up at his family’s small bakery, so food was an important part of his life from his early years. While in school, he studied plastic arts and worked as an art teacher, but gave it up and moved to the United States to learn English. Soon Núñez was learning the art of plated desserts at Barry Callebaut Cocoa in New Jersey. From there, he traveled around Europe working as a chef, picking up international recipes, and then returned to the United States to study at Johnson and WalesUniversity’s College of Culinary Arts in Rhode Island. In 1995, he spread his love of food internationally when he joined the Peace Corps in Africa to feed the hungry.
After working at several restaurants in the United States, Núñez says he is excited to be home in Costa Rica, heading the culinary efforts at Flamingo Beach Resort.
The elegant hotel sits on Playa Flamingo, on the northern Pacific coast. Getting to Flamingo’s white-sand beaches requires traveling over disintegrating roads, but those who can handle a few bumps will be blessed with beautifully preserved natural surroundings and a quaint beach town upon arrival.
The resort’s facilities include a pool with swim-up bar, a casino and piano bar, a beauty salon, a fitness center and spa, game tables, an Internet café and a disco. All 91 air-conditioned rooms and suites come equipped with satellite TV, telephone, minibar, safe and hairdryer. At present, the hotel is undergoing renovation to improve its facilities; the current location of Catalinas restaurant will become a convention room catering to universities, businesses and special events, and the restaurant will relocate closer to the beach for an airy, romantic atmosphere.
While it is entirely possible to spend your entire vacation at the resort, nearby activities abound, including sportfishing trips, horseback rides, canopy tours and beach, mountain and sunset tours.
A relaxing getaway can only be enhanced by quality cuisine, and Núñez’s love of food goes beyond just filling the belly. For this chef, food is about sensation; he believes that all the little details that make up a dining experience are what create lasting memories.
For more information about the resort and restaurant, call 654-4444 or visit www.resortflamingobeach.com.