Chef Winston Guerrero has had the fortune of cooking in many corners of the globe. But when the opportunity came to join Cobalt in Vero Beach as executive chef, he saw it as a “blessing”. “I’ve been doing this a long time and you always try to figure out where you belong,” he says.
The Colombia native moved to the US when he was five, among the first wave of Colombian immigrants in the mid-1960s that would eventually settle in Rhode Island. His journey took off in earnest via a summer culinary program at Johnson & Wales University. The community course sparked a passion for food & cooking—one that would lead to four years of service in the military, a Corporal rank in the military (Marine Corps and Army), and stints cooking all over the Eastern seaboard and the Caribbean.
Establishing his diverse background further, he found himself cooking in Gatlinburg, TN at the foothills of the Smoky Mountains before transitioning into his own spot in New England where he experienced the highs and lows of restaurant ownership. In mid-2018, he chose the sunny Florida coastline and moved to the dual-restaurant executive chef position at the Kimpton Vero Beach Hotel & Spa.
“This is really a hotel that concentrates as a restaurant,” he says. “I have (plenty of) leeway and it’s a win-win for everyone.” Winston brings a self-described “inspirational and traditional” style to the menu at Cobalt and Heaton’s Reef, which brings New England seafood sensibilities to the laid back Treasure Coast. “Every day becomes a challenge for what we want to showcase,” he adds.
What he is showcasing, however, is a variety of collaborations and specials that come from his globetrotting background and diverse style of his culinary staff. The recipe below comes from Argentina’s gaucho country—a testament to Winston’s signature approach. “It combines the European and Latin styles I’ve been exposed to throughout my career,” he says.
Next time you’re visiting Vero Beach, check out some of Chef Winston’s local recommendations:
- Favorite Dive Bar: Bungalow Bar (2855 Ocean Dr B3, Vero Beach)
- Favorite Coffee Spot: Rio Coco (3300 43rd Ave #3, Vero Beach)
- Favorite Date Night Restaurant: CC’s Place (482 US-1 Suite 5, Sebastian)
- Favorite for Ice Cream: Cravings (3149 Ocean Dr, Vero Beach)
- Favorite Bike Shop: Orchid Island Bikes & Kayaks (1175 Commerce Ave, Vero Beach)
- Favorite Soul Food: 14 Bones (1500 US-1, Vero Beach)
- Favorite Craft Drinks: Southern Social (1932 14th Ave, Vero Beach)