October 1, 2019

SUNNY ISLES BEACH, October 1, 2019 – The Five Star, Five Diamond Acqualina Resort & Spa located in Miami’s Sunny Isles Beach is pleased to announce the appointment of Jose Casals as Head Chef. Chef Casals will oversee the resort’s food and beverage operations including the beachfront restaurant Costa Grill, banquet and event menus and the spa menu for the award-winning Acqualina Spa by ESPA. He will lead a team of 20 people.

Chef Casals brings more than two decades of culinary experience to Acqualina. He has served as a hospitality instructor and international chef ambassador and also held executive chef positions at top restaurants including the restaurants at Walt Disney World MGM Studios. Most recently, he was a professor at Miami Culinary Institute at Miami Dade College where he designed study abroad programs to France, Italy, Spain, Peru, South Africa and China taking students to the local markets and farms and exploring the local food culture and Michelin Starred restaurants.

“We are delighted to welcome Jose to Acqualina,” said Deborah Yager Fleming, CEO & Partner. “His culinary pedigree coupled with his creativity and enthusiasm for cooking will be a great asset to our food & beverage offerings.”

Raised in Puerto Rico, Chef Casals started cooking at a young age with guidance from his grandfather who was also a professional chef. With his grandfather’s influence he developed a deep appreciation for cooking and a fondness for traveling and learning about new cultures.

After graduating from the Florida Culinary Institute of West Palm Beach with an Associate of Science degree in food and beverage management and culinary arts, he worked for some of the most notable restaurants in Palm Beach such as Café L’ Europe. After, Chef Casals took his skills to Orlando and Walt Disney World. There he held various culinary positions at several high profile restaurants including the famous Brown Derby restaurant at MGM Studios. He was the youngest chef at Disney to be at the helm of one of their top restaurants at the age of 20. He was also a Chef Ambassador and part of the opening team for the prestigious Epcot Food and Wine Festival. Chef Casals has extensive experience in international menu development that includes cuisines from Latin America, Asia, the Mediterranean, and modern American influences. He has been invited all over the world as a culinary competition judge and as a guest speaker to talk about culinary trends.

Chef Casals holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality Management and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Lynn University. He is a Certified Executive Chef and member of the American Culinary Federation, a Certified Hospitality Educator from the American Hotel and Lodging Association and a member of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.  He has appeared on local and national television shows in English and Spanish.

Chef Casals is thrilled to join the award-winning Acqualina team. “My passion is driven by the bounty of products that I can use, the discovery of a new recipe, great meals, understanding new techniques and by making people smile one dish at a time,” says Casals, “A lot of my inspirations are based on childhood memories, travels around the world and through hands-on work experience.”

A sampling of his new menu for banquets and social events includes:

Menu 1

Arugula, Dandelion, Fava, Black Olive and Sherry Vinaigrette
. . .

Pan Roasted Black Cod, Gruyere Broth, Beluga Lentils, Caramelized Carrots
. . .

Sous-Vide Beef Tenderloin, Steamed Baby Bok Choy, Foie Gras over Rhubard Puree
. . .

Hazelnut Milk Chocolate Crème Brulee

Menu 2

Braised Fennel, Radish and Apple Salad
. . .

Maine Lobster Grilled, Garlic Gnocchi’s, Sweet Garlic Nage, Jalapeno–Parsley Relish
. . .

Marinated 24-Sous Vide Churrasco, Gruyere Dumplings, Black Truffle Potato Broth
. . .

Banana Brioche Flan, Maple Ice Cream


Menu 3

Celery Root Soup, Spiced Maple Froth
. . .

Beet Salad with Endive Walnuts Goat Cheese Fondue
. . .

Rack of Lamb with Green Chili and Mint
. . .

Black Seabass, Fragrant Coconut Juice Parsnips, Charred Lime
. . .

Chocolate Trio Mousse

About Acqualina Resort & Spa
Acqualina Resort & Spa is a place where the charm of a Mediterranean villa meets elegance on the beach. A seaside luxury haven located on 4.5 beachfront acres in pristine Sunny Isles Beach, Acqualina Resort & Spa features 98 impeccably appointed guest rooms and suites and 188 residences with breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, world-class dining including Il Mulino New York, three oceanfront swimming pools, spacious meeting rooms and an innovative marine biology-based children’s program. A variety of lavish interior and exterior venues provide an ideal background for opulent weddings and memorable events. Acqualina Spa by ESPA, the first ESPA-branded spa in the United States, provides guests with an exquisite 20,000-square-foot, two-story tranquil sanctuary of excellence and relaxation. A family owned and operated property, Acqualina is a recipient of the coveted Forbes Travel Guide Awards for both the hotel and spa and the AAA Five Diamond Award.

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Media Contact:
Alexandra Wensley
Vice President of Communications
Acqualina Resort & Spa