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COCINA TROPICAL: The Classic and Contemporary Flavors of Puerto Rico


Rich in flavor and a unique blend of African, Spanish, Taíno Indian and French roots, Puerto Rico’s cuisine is an explosion of flavors. In his book, Cocina Tropical, renowned chef Jose Santaella pays homage to his homeland with its beautiful mountains, picturesque beaches and historic Spanish colonial city. In this beautifully photographed book by Ben Fink, Jose presents an array of dishes, both classic and contemporary all made with local ingredients. He shows you how to master local delicacies like fricassee de conejo (rabbit stew) and demonstrates how to perfectly fry a red snapper which he tops with a beautiful rainbow of cilantro, tomato and pineapple. According to Eric Ripert, ‘Rice and beans aren’t just a staple, but an art form when cooked with knowledge, passion and love. That’s exactly what Jose is sharing with us throughout these pages.”

Jose Santaella pic

Jose Santaella’s love for cooking started as it has for many of the world’s greatest chefs. He was inspired at an early age by his family’s cooking, both at home and at his father’s restaurants. But the turning point and a certainty of a career as a chef developed when he started to work in Chef Alfredo Ayala’s restaurant, Ali Oli. Through his mentor, Jose met Eric Ripert who eventually took Jose to work at his restaurant, Le Bernardin in New York City and today, has become one of Jose’s dear friends.

Chillo Frito

Hungry for more, Jose moved to San Francisco to work with Gary Danko and later traveled to Barcelona where he trained under Ferran Adrià at elBulli and witnessed the molecular gastronomy evolution. But Jose’s dream was to return to his beloved Island and bring a new approach to comida criolla inspired by his experiences and travels.
frituras de yuca

Through Cocina Tropical, Jose’s goal is to bring the love, laughter, music and spirit of Puerto Rico to your table.  He shows you how to expertly cook traditional plantain dishes and fritters, which play an essential role in every local home, all while offering his own approach.

To purchase Cocina Tropical visit

¡Buen Provecho!

If you are visiting Puerto Rico, don’t miss a chance to dine at Jose’s restaurant, Santaella, in La Placita de Santurce.  Reservations can be made via or by calling 787.725.1611


La Placita de Santurce

219 Calle Canals

San Juan, PR 00907



Lunch & Dinner Tuesday – Friday  | 11:30AM – 11PM

Dinner on Saturdays | 6:30PM-11PM


Post by: Paulina Salach


Images provided by Santaella.