Executive chef Joshua Vazquez reflects:
Cooking is really a passion of mine and has been since my childhood. As a child, I grew up in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is truly a wonderful place because of the cultural mix that stems from its history. Growing up there really influenced me not only as a person, but also as a cook. The rich history created a nexus of Indian, European and African influences and flavors that all still inspire me today. These rich flavors and cooking styles, Ceviche for example, always provide a base I can look back to whenever I am in doubt about a dish. Growing up there made the foundation of everything I do now as a chef.
Cedar Plank Salmon
topped with pineapple salsa and grilled shrimp (serves four)
- 4 salmon filets (8 ounces each)
- 4 cedar wood planks (5 inches by 8 inches), soaked in water for 24 hours, then put in broiler for 5 minutes at 350 degrees to bring out the cedar plank taste
- 1 ½ cup of diced pineapple
- ¼ cup of green peppers
- ¼ cup of red peppers
- ¼ cup of yellow onion
- 1 pinch of salt and pepper
- 1 pinch fresh herbs
- ¼ cup of red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 4 skewers of shrimp, 3 shrimp per skewer
1. Combine the pineapple, green and red peppers, onion, herbs, red wine vinegar and olive oil to create a salsa and let it marinate for two hours.
2. Season the salmon filet with salt and pepper.
3. Heat saute pan with vegetable oil, pan sear the salmon for about 1 minute on each side.
4. Place the salmon filet on the cedar plank and put it the oven at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.
5. Serve on a large plate and garnish with 2 tablespoons of pineapple salsa and a skewer of shrimp.
1. Fill pint glass with ice.
2. Add 1 ounce of sauza Hornitos Reposado Tequila, 1 ounce of milagro silver tequila.
3. Add 2 ounces of Triple sec.
4. Add 4 ounces of sour mix.
5. Shake until cold (approx. 5 seconds).
6. Rim a pint glass with salt.
7. Pour drink into rimmed glass.
8. Float with .5 ounce of Gran Marnier.
Joshua Vazquez learned to cook from his father in the family’s kitchen and assisting his father’s food cart business in Puerto Rico. “I remember him guiding my hands, showing me how to cut and showing me how to season,” he recalls. “Of course, new to cooking I made mistakes. Despite this, my father always told me to keep my chin up and figure out how to fix it. He showed me that no dish should ever hit the table unless it’s done well.”
He moved to the United States as a teenager and worked in several restaurants rising in rank from dish washer to executive chef.
“Every day at work I am reminded of the family atmosphere that surrounded my experience with food in Puerto Rico,” he says. “I really try to create that family feeling not only with my kitchen staff, but also with the guests. I try to translate that feeling to the guests with dishes that are classically good and executing them well. In my experience, homemade food makes you feel satisfied, happy and full.”