Born in San Jose, Costa Rica, Chef Jose Lopez has established himself as a leading connoisseur of his country’s culinary identity–a melting pot of European, African and Meso-American influences. He has spent his career championing Costa Rica’s indigenous products, flavors, and culinary traditions, while actively advocating for the preservation of the natural resources and beauty of his country.
As a teenager, Chef Jose left Costa Rica for Florida where he enrolled in the Hotel Management School at Lynn University in Boca Raton. He then continued his hospitality studies at Cornell University and at the American University in Dublin, Ireland, before joining Temptress Adventure Cruises. As Hotel Manager on the cruises, he was accompanied by four naturalists who led tours. The small vessels made stops at remote national parks in order to expose the guests to Costa Rica’s natural beauty and highlight the need to preserve it.
Inspired by his exposure to quality hospitality and realizing that his true love was food, Chef Jose decided to seek a culinary education. Since this type of education was, at the time, very limited in Costa Rica, Chef Jose moved to France and enrolled as a Grand Diplome at the renowned Le Cordon Bleu School in Paris. Following graduation he gained valuable experience working in restaurants in Jerusalem, Valencia, Paris, and Madrid.
Since returning home to Costa Rica, he has opened and operated three acclaimed restaurants and worked as a culinary consultant for a number of boutique hotels in Central America. Chef Jose is honored and thrilled to join Casa Chameleon Hotels as the company’s first Executive Chef. Our boutique, luxury resorts, restaurants, and bars allow him to fully express himself–not only as a talented culinarian, but, perhaps more importantly, as a passionate representative of Costa Rica’s real treasure: its endless variety of fresh produce from its stunning highlands and two beautiful coasts.
His culinary style and menus celebrate the freshness of these prime local ingredients. He combines Meso-American flavors with featured salads, ceviche, grilled fish and seafood, and slow-cooked meats. It is not uncommon to find him in the early morning taking resort guests to local farmer’s markets to source fresh herbs, baby greens, and spicy peppers, and later enjoying breakfast and local coffee with guests at the authentic wood-fired tortilleria.
Dining in Sentido Norte is like dining in a local friend’s gourmet kitchen. Everything is accounted for, every request can be met, and every–from dish to drink–is delicious.