We have learned so much from Chef Dario Torres, Lead Cook at The Culinary Vegetables Institute at The Chef’s Garden, who has been involved in virtually every event and happening at the CVI since his arrival nearly two years ago.
Dario grew up in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico and it’s been inspiring to learn about the culinary traditions of his native country which are a blend of traditions from Spain, Africa and the indigenous Taino people.
Dario first learned cooking skills from his grandmother who took care of him and his sister until he was fourteen while their parents worked to offer their children a better life. Even though he enjoyed cooking, he wasn’t sure he wanted to be a chef. He had dreams of becoming a scientist or an engineer because of his love of science and math until he caught an episode of Master Chef on The Discovery Channel and his whole world was turned upside down.
A seed was planted that has flourished over the past eleven years of his career that has taken him from restaurants in Puerto Rico, to the kitchen of a cruise ship to Spain and finally to our doors at The Culinary Vegetable Institute, a day we find very fortuitous indeed!
The first successful dish that Dario prepared for his family in those early days was a whole boneless chicken stuffed with sweet mofongo, a plantain recipe beloved in Puerto Rico. It took him forever to bone the chicken and by the time it arrived to the table his family was starving but their bad mood was instantly dashed when they tasted his amazing chicken.
From there, Dario worked at Buffalos Southwest Cafe in Mayaguez and then attended culinary school in San Juan, the nation’s capital. He worked in Fratelli, an Italian restaurant where he picked up skills from one of his mentors, Chef Ernesto Rivera. He then cooked at Hotel La Concha with Chef Jannette Berrios, La Madre, a modern Mexican restaurant with Chef Carlos Velandia, Cocina Abierta with Chef Martin Louzao and Condado Cantina with Chef Patrick Dawson.
Dario says that all of these chefs helped him become the innovative, conscientious, skilled chef that he is today. He says that the one message that serves as his guiding light is that, “It’s most important to never think that you know everything, to listen and learn from others, to have a clear map of future goals and most importantly, to be humble and to cook from your heart.”
We are so honored to have Dario as an integral part of The Culinary Vegetable Institute team where he cooks from his heart each and every day.