I had no intention or plans to interview any Chefs while in Panama. I had plenty of work already and so much to do in so little time, but when I had the pleasure to enjoy Chef Bruno Bellocchio’s food….

Chef Bruno swooned me when I decided to have dinner at the fabulous restaurant of the Grace Hotel : 54 EAST.

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This is when food becomes art, each dish with the most incredible presentation and taste.

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I enjoyed dinner so much, when I came down to the restaurant the next day, I asked if the Chef was available to meet with me on a short notice and to my surprise, he obliged!

When you meet Chef Bruno Bellocchio, you are taking back by this young handsome looking chef that welcomes you!

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Chef Bruno Bellocchio is originally from Argentina! He moved to Panama six years ago and was hired at the Grace Hotel four years ago.

He has practiced his “art” at differents hotels and restaurants in Panama until he found a home at The Grace Hotel.

He went to cooking school in Argentina and spent a year overseas in Spain deepening his understanding of cooking in a 3 stars Michelin restaurant in San Sebastian.

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The work of this thirty-four year old Chef is sophisticated and very complex to describe. It is a combination of inspiration, decoration, creation, art, gastronomic vision, feelings, observation, taste, excitement and creation of flavors to give guests the best experience possible.

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When I asked how he gets inspired for his daily specials his answer was very simple. He looks at what ingredients he has and comes up with the specials accordingly.

I also wanted to know some of his favorite chefs. When asked who are his inspirations, there was no hesitation, he did not have to search his memory for someone.

The incredibly creative and very well know French chef,  Michel Bras is one of his biggest inspirations.

To Chef Bruno, cooking is a way of life. His love beyond everything is the expression through the presentation.

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His kitchen is separated by stations and has a staff of ten, each with a love of sharing their creations with patrons.

His pleasure is to go to local markets for fresh fish, meat and produce.

His pride and joy is that he plates every single one of the plates that comes out of the kitchen.

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When asked what he loves to cook when at home, pate is the answer.

I was so grateful that Chef Bruno had the time to give me an interview.  Observing him in his kitchen was really where you can see the magic happening. He made me lunch…and wow!!! What a lunch. The presentation was incredible and the taste was succulent. What a treat.

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If you have the opportunity to be in Panama City, Panama, make sure that you make time for an exquisite  meal at the Grace hotel restaurant 54 EAST.