From traditional 'casado' croquettes to seafood symphony, Chef Alves takes guests on a journey through Costa Rican cuisine and redefines the flavors of Guanacaste.
By Danielle Finnegan | January 5, 2024 | Guanacaste

A year ago, when Chef Bruno Alves unexpectedly landed in Costa Rica, it marked a surprising twist in his culinary narrative. With a background that included European ventures and a successful stint running his own kitchen in Portugal, the notion of Costa Rica hadn’t crossed his mind when the opportunity to lead Ostra at Andaz Peninsula Papagayo presented itself.

Fluent in Spanish, Chef Alves wasted no time immersing himself in the local scene—exploring farms, joining fishmongers on their boats, and unraveling the layers of Costa Rican cuisine and culture. However, the response was often modest when he probed his new Costa Rican friends about their culinary heritage. This didn’t sit well with the chef, who, in his quest, unearthed a treasure trove of fresh local produce and was taken aback by the depth and intricacy of many indigenous dishes. Moreover, the warmth of the people resonated with him, evoking memories of his family’s kitchen in Brazil.

Undeterred by the initial comments, Chef Alves spent most of the year expanding his culinary horizons beyond Guanacaste. Chef Alves refined his culinary philosophy and birthed a concept celebrating Costa Rica’s rich culture and ingredients. This involved a transformative reinterpretation of local dishes, offering a global perspective that showcased the diversity that had captured his culinary heart over the past year.

The results are refined and innovative but still authentic. The “ceviche del dia” is available based on the day’s catch. A traditional “casado” is still the everyday Costa Rican meal but with an explosion of flavors inside a croquette, and a “mariscada,” usually a humble seafood stew, becomes a base of handmade pasta served with grilled local prawns and natilla foam. The dishes shine using international culinary techniques to portray Costa Rican food, making the tastes relatable to the well-traveled palate.

Chef Alves envisions continual evolution with every new ingredient and flavor he discovers, aligning his culinary prowess with the seasons and nature’s bounty. But that’s just the beginning. In the upcoming year, he plans to unveil a visiting chef series, aiming to create a culinary hub in Guanacaste that celebrates local culture with the involvement of other remarkable chefs.

As the resort’s signature restaurant, guests can anticipate an elevated dining experience. The team takes immense pride in presenting their fare on the world stage with refinement. Adding to the ambiance, a vinyl DJ curates the evening’s vibe with a funk playlist—a touch that resonates with General Manager Patrick Schori, a self-proclaimed aficionado of 1970s funk. “The music sets the tone for an experience that is simultaneously refined, playful, and fun.”

As Chef Bruno Alves continues to weave the vibrant tapestry of Costa Rican flavors at Ostra, his culinary odyssey promises an enduring celebration of culture, innovation, and the boundless richness in every carefully crafted dish.

People come to Costa Rica to discover the country, and the food should be a significant part of this. We want to showcase its flavors and history, guiding diners through a journey full of discovery, curiosity and experimentation.

Chef Bruno Alves