Every bite of ceviche is an explosion of flavor upon the palate. That is, every bite of Chef Victor Cleonares’ ceviche is! To summarize If you’re less familiar with the dish, ceviche is a recipe originating in Latin America and the Caribbean. It combines raw fish and seafood marinated in some form of citrus juice and garnished with ingredients such as onions, cilantro, avocado, and more.
Looking for The Best Ceviche in All The Lands? Head to Curacao to Meet Chef Victor
Now, let’s get back to the most delicious ceviche in the Caribbean. Ceviche is delicious and somewhat simple to make, but not all ceviche artisans are equally skilled. We happen to know a renowned ceviche craftsman who takes a few ingredients and works them into edible magic! Let’s meet Victor Cleonares, top ceviche chef on the beautiful island of Curacao. Victor works his magic at one of Curacao’s amazing resorts – Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort. To get a little insight into chef Victor’s ceviche magic, we asked him a few questions:
Chef Victor, please tell us a little bit about your background, where are you from, how did you begin to make ceviche, etc.?
“I grew up in the small town of Huacho, Peru. Huacho lies on the shore of the Pacific Ocean and is two hours north of Lima. Since I was a little boy, I was very interested in flavors, and Huacho is a very multicultural city due to its big harbor. My great-grandmother was Chinese, and my great- grandfather was Greek, so I learned to be open to new tastes from a young age.
As a child, I would always ask my mom or grandma about the ingredients while watching them cook. My grandfather would tell me to stop with the questions and get out of the kitchen.
I first cooked at 10 years old. My mother went to Lima for a day and left me money to buy something to eat. I was not allowed to use the kitchen in her absence. Against her orders, I went to the market and bought fresh produce. I went straight home and made corn ceviche. I’ve been addicted to ceviche since I was a child.
Later on, I studied chemical engineering. I was persuaded into a career in sales, but my heart always belonged in the kitchen. When I moved to the beautiful Island of Curacao four years ago, I decided to follow my heart and began working at Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort. Within the resort, I found my home at Shore Restaurant, where seafood is a specialty, and I feel like I’m right at home.”
You are quite famous for your ceviche, how did you come to be a master at making it?
“My passion for making Ceviche is, of course, because I am from Huacho, a city filled with fresh seafood products daily. I began making it for my friends and family, then later on after I became a cook, I learned more about flavor combinations and was able to make even better-tasting dishes.”
What is it that makes your ceviche so memorable and mouth- watering?
“Every time I make my ceviche I try to make it better. I make it with passion and do my best so that those eating it not only eat a delicious dish but also get to experience every delicious flavor. I try to make my ceviche with a balance of ingredients. I suppose what makes my ceviche memorable is that I don’t only focus on how it’s made, but I also focus on the person who will eat it.”
Which drinks, in your opinion, pair best with your ceviche?
“Something sour is ideal with Ceviche. When ordering drinks at Shore Restaurant, I would recommend you to pair it with a premium whiskey or vodka sour made by our talented bartenders.”
What do you hope people experience while eating your Ceviche?
“That’s a difficult question. But I want them to savor the different flavors. To experience each one but also in combination so that they get the urge to come back for more and experience a whole new mix of flavors again.”
How do you make your ceviche (if we are allowed to know, that is)?
“The ingredients are simple and delicious. The concept is also very simple, what’s most important is to make it from fresh ingredients and make it with passion. Taste your ceviche after every added ingredient to discover if anything is missing. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the different ingredients; sometimes putting a little more of one or less of the other is a good thing. Below are the ingredients I use.”
- Fresh fish
- Fresh lemon juice
- Spicy peppers
- Can be combined with corn and/or sweet potatoes
Thank you, Chef Victor for not only crafting amazing ceviche but for taking the time to chat! For anyone interested in tasting his ceviche, you’ll need to plan a trip to Curacao and stay at, or visit, Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort. Chef Victor can be found at Shore Restaurant alongside head Chef Heinrich Hortencia, a pure genius in the kitchen. Every bite you eat while at Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort will be delicious, and paired with exquisite views of the Caribbean Sea.