Skift Table Q&A: Chef Juan Jose Cuevas

At 1919, a fine dining restaurant located inside the Condado Vanderbilt hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, executive chef Juan Jose Cuevas oversees a seasonal menu that relies heavily on locally sourced produce. Cuevas ensures that each dish on the menu has a local ingredient incorporated into it, and he works with an ever-growing list of farms across the island to make that happen.

When hurricanes Irma and Maria tore through the island last fall, everything fell apart. But out of the wreckage a new food supply system began to emerge, one in which Cuevas was able to work more collaboratively with his farmers and expand the variety of local ingredients that were available. As he explains in the video above, Cuevas found that farmers were more willing to work with him on growing a greater variety of produce now that everyone was starting from scratch again. In return, Cuevas ensures that the farmers are paid for their product on time and in full, even if 1919 doesn’t always use all of the supply.

Learn more about Cuevas’ work in Skift Table’s video above, and be sure to check out our full report on Puerto Rico’s local food movement here.

Video shot and produced by Richard Chen.

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