A tasteful role model: JaAna Santiago talks success

admin | 11/1/2012, 12:01 p.m.

Success has a very distinct taste. It is sweet and savory, according to celebrity chef and Wilhelmina model, JaAna Santiago, 28, who has a catering company that is based in Miami [J. Adele Catering]. Santiago counts herself among the fortunate individuals who get to do what they enjoy for a living. When placed in a kitchen or any space to create food, Santiago immediately begins bouncing around the kitchen taste-testing her tweaked family recipes. Occasionally, she hums; she bounces and quickly retreats back into her private conversation with her one-of-a-kind dishes that she is creating. Its my release, Santiago said about her love of cooking. I am not overwhelmed. I dont worry about anything else. An enticing menu The self-taught beautiful chef has an appealing menu of clients. Santiago is the personal chef for Aaron Maybin of the New York Jets and Dwight Freeney of the Indianapolis Colts. The secret ingredient to the chefs success has been her attention to details. She understands what her clients need in their selective diet and she makes it a priority to offer it. Santiagos beauty and talent has even gotten her featured in Essence magazine. I have been fortunate to work with people who love to eat, Santiago said. The chef discussed how she creates high calorie dishes for Maybin to help him pack on the pounds. There is a lot of meat that goes into his meals, Santiago said. But it all just depends on what the client needs. While discussing the dishes that she creates for her clients, it was impossible to not touch on the dishes that entice her taste buds. Oxtails are my favorite dish to make, Santiago said. Tasteful influences Like most creators, Santiago draws inspiration for her dishes from her life. My culture plays a big role in my recipes, Santiago said. Since I am Puerto Rican and Black, I do a mix of Spanish and soul food and its all healthy. Ju'lia Samuels jsamuels@miamitimesonline.com