Chef Amar Santana of Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale's South Coast Plaza - Biography

Costa Mesa, CA

August 2010

Amar Santana is living proof of the American chef dream. Born in the Dominican Republic, Santana moved to the US with his family and settled in Queens, NY. He quickly learned English and enrolled in a cooking program by Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP).

Santana interned at Chef David Waltuck’s Chanterelle in Manhattan and subsequently won a C-CAP culinary competition and a two-week training trip to London’s Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. Upon his high school graduation, he enrolled in The Culinary Institute of America on full scholarship. He spent his externship at Aureole, where he met Charlie Palmer.

Unlike most externs who are typically restricted to garde manger, Santana was promoted to the hot appetizer and fish stations. After his CIA graduation in 2002, he returned to Aureole as a full time cook. In October 2003, he was named sous chef at Aureole.

In 2007, Palmer tapped him to run the kitchen of his first Southern California restaurant, Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale’s in South Coast Plaza. Santana has earned the restaurant four stars from the Orange County Register and recognition as one of Orange County’s Top Ten restaurants by Orange Coast. Passionate about all things pork, Santana continues to develop and master his cured meats and charcuterie skills.