Chef Dario’s Rosemary Arepas Recipe
Some celebrities were name-dropped, others kept private. There were mentions of Connecticut. The South of France. Waves in Kauai. Mega yachts. Conversations with private chef-slash-surfer Dario Tani feel like speed-reading the Robb Report. Through his profession as a cook-for-hire, he’s constantly traveling and whipping up meals for clients in ridiculously opulent settings. At home, however, he lives a much simpler life.
Dario’s obsessed with surfing—he had enough boards in his quiver to provide for each member of our crew that visited Puerto Rico. He’s more interested in local agriculture than the restaurant scene. And above all, he’s committed to his community in Puerto Rico, assisting Sylvia in the reconstruction of La Finca Victoria and hosting pop-up meals on the island.
We managed to catch Dario just before another trip stateside. From the kitchen of La Finca, he cooked up some papaya and kimchi-topped arepas and helped us polish off a bottle of Barrilito rum poolside.
Dario originally hails from Venezuela, where arepas are a daily staple. When he’s feeling homesick, this recipe is his quick and delicious answer to nostalgia.
• 2 1/2 cups of water
• 2 cups cornmeal (Dario recommends P.A.N.)
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tbsp fresh rosemary
1. Add water to a bowl with salt and rosemary and mix, gradually add the cornmeal until you get a nice smooth texture.
2. Let it rest for about 10 minutes, hand roll the mixture into balls, and squeeze them with the palms of your hands to create a roughly 3-inch diameter, 1/2-inch thick patty.
3. Heat a cast iron pan on high heat with just a little coconut oil and pan sear the patties ’til they get, as Dario puts it, a “roasty, crispy, crunchy texture and smoky flavor.” The inside should be soft and moist.
4. Then cut them in half (like a hamburger bun, not down the middle from above) and top with damn near anything you can think of. Dario scavenged around the kitchen at Finca Victoria and topped half of his batch with papaya salad and the other with kimchi, but you can add shredded chicken, avocado, beans, and cheese. Let your imagination run wild.