Plate as Palette with Chef Rico Hosena

The chef at the helm of Grand Harbor’s Beach Club brings his own creative flair to classical European cuisine

Rico Hosena began his culinary journey while growing up in the Philippines. Photo by Kim Bottalico
Rico Hosena began his culinary journey while growing up in the Philippines. Photo by Kim Bottalico

The voyage of this chef’s life has taken him from his homeland of the Philippines to Grand Harbor in Vero Beach. 

For Rico Hosena, the head chef at Grand Harbor’s Beach Club, cooking began as a family tradition. Growing up in the Philippines, he recalls, “I was the eldest of the family, so I would help my mom to prepare our meals. I also learned from my grandmother.” Both were good cooks, and Hosena appreciates the sense of family that is so often a part of his profession. As he got older, he received training under a European chef living in the Philippines, and he fell in love with classical European cuisine.

Eventually, Hosena began working at Grand Harbor under a visa program, and his talent was recognized by general manager Michael Gibson. “He saw potential in me,” Hosena says. Today, Hosena is a mentor to other chefs in the visa program, and his work is met with enthusiastic appreciation at Grand Harbor. As Kathryn Redner-Funnell, director of marketing, puts it, “Rico’s style is classic with a twist. Each plate is a work of art.”

Classic with a twist? The chef himself explains that he loves to combine his appreciation of fine European cuisine with his own sense of creative flair. For example, his diver sea scallops with bacon-and-sundried-tomato jam have been a big hit. Other intriguing examples of his classical yet innovative style can be found on the celebrated “pre-fixe” menus at Grand Harbor Beach Club. 

The pepper-crusted New York strip steak adds Italian prosciutto to the French au poivre sauce, while the playfully named “duck duck goose” entrée combines duck breast and duck confit with foie gras (not to mention berry gastrique). Pheasant roulade is accompanied by applewood bacon, chorizo sausage, dried cranberries, herbes de Provence, and a Grand Marnier sauce. 

“I like to do herbed sauces,” Hosena notes, not only on pheasant and other roast fowl dishes but “even on steak and fish.” Desserts include a petite gateau with lime cream, fresh raspberries, almond biscuit, micro flowers, and raspberry fluid gel.

He began by learning from his mother and grandmother on the far side of the world. Training by European chefs gave further direction to his love of cooking. Now, Hosena enjoys well-earned respect at the Beach Club of Grand Harbor. He also enjoys the freedom that his work can bring. “I enjoy cooking because I love experimenting and creating my own dishes.”  

Spicy Tuna Roll by Chef Rico Hosena. Photo by Kim Bottalico
Spicy Tuna Roll by Chef Rico Hosena. Photo by Kim Bottalico

Appetizer: Spicy Tuna Roll

This appetizer brings an international flair. Look for the eel sauce in Asian or specialty markets, or online.

Serves 2 

  • 1 nori sheet 
  • 1 cup sushi rice
  • 1 strip each of cucumber, pickled daikon, and carrot
  • 6 tbsp. spicy tuna
  • Wasabi aioli
  • Eel sauce

Wrap a bamboo mat with plastic to prevent sticking. 

Place the nori sheet, rough side up, on the mat. Wet your hand, gently take a handful of rice, spread it all over the nori, and turn over (rice side down). Fill with the vegetable strips.

Use the bamboo mat to roll the nori sheet. Top off with spicy tuna and press it with the mat.

Cut into 8–10 pieces and drizzle with wasabi aioli and eel sauce. Serve with choice of wasabi, pickled ginger, and soy sauce.

Spicy Tuna 

  • 1/2 lb. quality tuna, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp. sriracha sauce
  • 2 tbsp. kimchee base
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil

Mix all ingredients well.

Olive Oil–Poached Salmon by Rico Hosena. Photo by Kim Bottalico
Olive Oil–Poached Salmon by Rico Hosena. Photo by Kim Bottalico

Entrée: Olive Oil–Poached Salmon 

This entrée reflects the classic cuisine that Hosena learned from European chefs and came to love.

Serves 4

  • 4 each 8 oz. fillet of salmon
  • Smashed fingerling potatoes
  • Haricot vert
  • Roasted cherry tomatoes
  • 2 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • A few sprigs of fresh herbs (thyme, oregano, rosemary)
  • 1 each orange, lemon slice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place salmon in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Cover the fish with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and add a few sprigs of fresh herbs.

Place the pan in the oven and poach until it’s cooked, about 15 minutes. 

Remove salmon from the oven, garnish with fresh herbs and slices of lemon and orange, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Plate salmon on top of smashed fingerling potatoes and roasted haricot vert; garnish with toasted almonds. 

Top dish with roasted cherry tomatoes and garnish with herbs.

Smashed Fingerling Potatoes

  • 1 1/2 lbs. fingerling potatoes
  • 5 tbsp. olive oil
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Freshly ground black peppercorn and salt
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh chives

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Rinse and scrub the potatoes under running water, leaving the skin on.

In a large pot of cold water, submerge the potatoes, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook 15–20 minutes or until a sharp knife can easily pierce through them.

Drain and place on a sheet pan and allow them to cool down for about 10 minutes. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil.

Use smasher or fork to lightly smash each potato.

Add a few sprigs of thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle remaining olive oil over the potatoes.

Bake about 20 minutes, turning over halfway through. When golden brown, remove from oven, sprinkle with chives, and serve immediately.

For Haricot Vert

Saute 1 lb. haricot vert until bright but crisp.

For Cherry Tomatoes

Roast 2 lbs. cherry tomatoes in oven until the skin has shriveled and just split, about 45 minutes.

*This recipe has been condensed for space.

Passion Fruit and Blueberry Crème Brûlée by Tim Blouin. Photo by Kim Bottalico
Passion Fruit and Blueberry Crème Brûlée by Tim Blouin. Photo by Kim Bottalico

Dessert: Passion Fruit and Blueberry Crème Brûlée 

This inventive crème brûlée recipe from one of Hosena’s valued colleagues, Executive Pastry Chef Tim Blouin, makes for an elegant and memorable close to the meal.

Serves 8

  • 1 1/2 pints fresh blueberries 
  • 1 qt. heavy cream 
  • 6 oz. granulated sugar 
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, sliced down the middle and scraped
  • 9 egg yolks 
  • 2 oz. passion fruit puree 
  • 8 mint sprigs 

Sugar for Torching:

  • 4 tbsp. brown sugar 
  • 4 tbsp. granulated sugar 

Place 8 crème brûlée dishes in a large roasting pan and divide 1 pint of blueberries among them, reserving 1/2 pint for garnish. 

Bring heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla bean to a boil. 

Place yolks into a bowl and temper the hot cream into the yolks by adding a little at a time, making sure not to scramble the yolks.

Add the passion fruit puree and strain the custard. 

Pour the custard over the blueberries, then fill the roasting pan with hot water, halfway up the crème brûlée dishes. 

Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 25–30 minutes until the custards are set. Carefully remove dishes from the hot water and chill for at least 4 hours.

When ready to serve, mix the brown and white sugars until combined. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of the mixture onto each custard, spreading evenly. 

With a butane torch, caramelize the top of each brûlée, garnish with the reserved blueberries and mint sprigs, and serve immediately. 

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