A finalist at the S. Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 competition, and with experience in various destinations, Juan Santiago recalls his professional career to date:
“I don’t come from a family of restaurateurs, but I decided to get involved in cooking because I really enjoy good food. I began my training in the advanced catering course at the School of San Cristóbal, in Gran Canaria. At that time, I still did not know if I would become a professional chef, but after a few months of studying, I was hooked on cuisine forever. I started right at the bottom. While I was studying, I was a waiter at the Hotel Madrid, in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, in Plaza Cairasco. In my second year, I started working in the kitchens of the restaurants around the seaside neighborhood of San Cristóbal in the capital. I studied in the mornings and from noon until the end of the evening shift I picked up experience in the restaurant”.
He later took a job in Tenerife at gastronomic restaurant Las Aguas in the Gran Hotel Bahía del Duque. At that time, their head chef was Salvador Gallego (1 Michelin star in his restaurant in Madrid), a master from whom he learned a lot.
In order to learn English he travelled to Scotland, where he continued his professional development with a two-year stay, starting in a vegetarian-vegan restaurant. After this experience he got a job in the only catering company in the country licensed to serve the British Royal Household. “It was one of my best experiences, as I had the pleasure of cooking for Scottish Prime Minister Alex Salmond, and for the Duke of Edinburgh, amongst other leading figures”.
After that stage, he returned to Gran Canaria as head chef at the Hotel Roca Negra in Agaete, and as a teacher and pedagogical coordinator at the Hotel Escuela Santa Brígida. In 2015 he took over as regional corporate chef for a German company called “Rational”.
After this time as a gastronomic consultant at Rational, Juan Santiago decided to start his own project. In September 2019, he opened his restaurant Hestia, near Las Canteras beach, in the capital of Gran Canaria, where he pours all his extensive culinary expertise into his dishes. Has recently been awarded with a Repsol Guide mention.