The greatest hospitality and passion in a meal…EVER!

On a recent trip to Panama, I had the absolute pleasure of dining at Riesen. A couple weeks before our scheduled reservation, I had been in communication with the chef. He informed me that although they usually close on Easter Monday, he would open the restaurant the day we had reserved, and that he had a soft spot for Canada, as that was where he had completed part of his training. Nothing could of prepared us for the surprise that was to come…

When we arrived at the restaurant, we realized that we were the only ones dining there that evening!

We were greeted by a lady who I would later learn was the chef’s mother! As they are typically closed on the day we dined there, I believe she came in just to do the service; this was just incredible. We felt as if we had been welcomed into their home for dinner! From chatting with the mom, we learned that they are totally supportive and proud of what their son has accomplished in the culinary world. Here was the menu and beverage pairing for the evening.

…and the food…

My thoughts on the food? I could tell that every dish was created with passion and everything was plated and cooked beautifully. The service was outstanding. Tastewise, not everything was 100%. Some dishes lacked that flavorful punch that I am looking for, especially with the smaller bites. However, I can see this being perfected over time, and I believe in a few years, this place will be incredible. Success requires hard work, passion, talent, and attention to detail. I can see all these traits in the chefs.

Two more surprises came for evening which reinforce my view that this place is destined for greatness. First, the chef showed us his lab where he experiments with different flavors and techniques.

Using one of his machines, he created this drink for us. As he explained each machine and process, you could see the light in his eyes and passion in his heart.

The last surprise came at the very end. The chef’s mom told us that chef would be driving us back to the hotel. At this point, we were just blown away by their hospitality. They also gave us some banana bread and pickles to take home which we took great effort to ensure they made it home with us even though we only had carryon luggage (airport security objections to the pickling liquid and all!). I will certainly be back and would recommend this place. I can’t wait to see how chef’s career develops!

Leave a Reply