October 9, 2018 Carlos A. Coriano

From Costa Rica to Europe: Academia Artesanos de la Gastronomía’s Youth Trains at Prestigious Culinary Institutions

Nine years ago, visionary chef Randy Siles lit the kitchen of Hotel Tropico Latino’s Shambala Restaurant in Santa Teresa de Cóbano. He knew that behind this new challenge there was a calling. Soon his mission was revealed: to encourage young people with limited economic resources and opportunities with the objective of positively transforming the future of that generation. And that is how his passion, commitment and determination became a catalyst for the birth of the Academia Artesanos de la Gastronomía.

For the execution of the new concept, Siles transformed the kitchen of the Shambala Restaurant into an absolute laboratory, an academy and, for many, a university where today he works with pure native youth.

The culinary arts curriculum is created and taught by Siles, Chef Ambassador of Costa Rica’s National Plan for Sustainable and Healthy Gastronomy. Young students immerse themselves in the philosophy of Siles centered on zero kilometer cuisine – a sustainable and healthy gastronomy based on the roots of tradition; the use of autochthonous and seasonal ingredients; supporting local farmers and producers, and reducing the carbon footprint.

The Academia Artesanos de la Gastronomía’s culinary arts program includes the training of cooks, waiters and catering service, and bartenders. Today, more than 90 students have received practical professional culinary training at the Shambala restaurant.



Strategic Alliances in France



During his trip to France in April 2018 where he received the prestigious Les Toques Blanches recognition, Siles, with the support from Laurent Boschero, editor of French travel guide, Le Petit Futé, forged new partnerships with the crème de la crème of the hospitality industry to provide Academia Artesanos de la Gastronomía’s students culinary training.

The portfolio of strategic partners include the Michelin-starred restaurant Le Jardin De Benjamin of the 5-star hotel, Château de Berne; Hôtel Le Club de Cavalière & Spa;  Hôtel Le Grand Cœur & Spa; Sebastian Gaillard’s  Le Restaurant la Truffe, and Christian Boeuf’s La Bastide des Magnans.

2018 has been a year of phenomenal achievements for the Academia Artesanos de la Gastronomía. We are proud to share our latest success stories.


Sous Chef Aims Higher



Alejandro Jiménez began his culinary training in 2011 under the supervision of Randy Siles at the Shambala Restaurant. Through seven years of apprenticeship, Alejandro reached the position of sous chef. This year, Alejandro had the opportunity to collaborate in an exclusive “Four Hands” Degustation Dinner by Chefs Richard Neat and Randy Siles at Neat’s exclusive restaurant, Park Café.




Recently, Alejandro completed a two-week intensive training that earned him certifications in International Bakery and International Modern Pastry conducted by none other than Edwin Solis, Executive Pastry Chef at the Ritz Carlton. “Alejandro is a vital piece for the strengthening and entrepreneurship of many youth at social risk,” says Siles.



Chef De Partie Heads to Provence, France for Culinary Training in Prestigious Restaurants



Josue Calvo, Chef De Partie at Hotel Trópico Latino, is a rising star in the making. Under the supervision of Randy Siles for two years, Josue traveled to France for a four-week culinary course under the supervision of renowned chef Benjamin Collombat of Le Jardin De Benjamin restaurant in the 5-star hotel Château de Berne; chef Christian Boeuf, owner of La Bastide des Magnans, and chef Sebastian Gaillard of Le Restaurant la Truffe.

In addition, Laurent Boschero, editor of the French travel guide Le Petit Futé, organized a vineyard experience to learn the processes and secrets of the famous Côtes de Provence.


About the Academia Artesanos de la Gastronomía


The “Academia Artesanos de la Gastronomía” is a nonprofit organization founded in 2011, in Santa Teresa de Cóbano, by Randy Siles with the mission of identifying, training, developing and facilitating job placement for talented youth at risk from disadvantaged Costa Rican communities.

For more information about our program and support our initiatives, visit: www.ArtesanosdelaGastronomia.org