The Local: Meet Puerto Rico’s Chef Paxx Caraballo Moll

A chef and his top-ranked eats changing more than cuisine.
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Visit Chef Paxx Caraballo Moll's JungleBaoBao when you cruise to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Credit: Shutterstock

Meet Chef Paxx Caraballo Moll, one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs of 2019. Royal Caribbean sat down with Paxx to discuss life as head chef at the popular Jungle BaoBao in San Juan, Puerto Rico and his 19-year journey of pursuing his passion to create not only something delicious, but beautiful.

That’s not surprising, considering he attended art school until he discovered his love for cooking, saying: “I thought this was much better. It’s still art, it’s just that you eat it.”

With a focus on precision cuts and inventive, ever-changing fare (perhaps best seen at the restaurant’s Instagram @junglebirdbar until you can see it firsthand) like his enoki bloom dish, it’s easy to understand why Paxx was recognized by Food & Wine, which he describes as “something you dream about.”

But for Paxx, restaurant life has meant more than incredible and tasty food. Running a supportive, inclusive kitchen for LGBTQ cooks has been a priority. He’s proud to have fostered a safe work environment where others can be themselves while doing what they love. The Puerto Rican chef has also taken a hyper-local focus for sourcing ingredients, so he can sustainably create dishes and help Puerto Rico’s farmers still recovering from life-changing events like Hurricane Maria.

Take a look at how Paxx is breaking barriers in and out of the kitchen: 


A Taste of Puerto Rico

Interested in visiting Jungle BaoBao? You can easily get there on a cruise sailing from or to San Juan, Puerto Rico since it’s only about a 10-minute drive from where your ship docks. Of course, Puerto Rico is home to some of the best eats in the Caribbean like the much-loved mofongo, made from mashed plantains and pork, so there’ll be plenty more culinary exploration in store.

As for Paxx’s focus on local ingredients, part of what makes it possible is another major attraction of San Juan: The city’s proximity to nature, farmland and lush forests. In fact, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Park System, El Yunque, is just a 40-minute drive from the city.

Looking to get a taste of this incredible island for yourself? Head here to see how Royal Caribbean can take you to experience Puerto Rico’s culinary, cultural and ecological adventures.