Chef Maria Mercedes Grubb

A native of San Juan, María Mercedes Grubb grew up surrounded by her parents’ modest food vending business. In 2004 María made a move to New York City and immersed herself in the international culinary world. In addition to working in some of Manhattan’s leading kitchens, she was employed for years under James Beard award winner Chef Gabriel Kreuther at the Modern, a renowned 3 star New York Times and a Michelin Star Alsatian restaurant. Maria was part of the opening team at two major restaurants: Bar Basque, a restaurant focusing on Spain’s Basque Region Cuisine, and Maialino, Danny Mayer’s Italian restaurant in the trendy Gramercy Park Hotel.

María attended culinary school at the French Culinary Institute in New York City where she received the prestigious Outstanding Service Award. She also returned to the FCI in 2011 to serve as Sous Chef for independent events before moving back to Puerto Rico.

Maria started UDC (Underground Dining Club), PR’s pioneer pop-up restaurant with an emphasis in seasonal cooking. UDC featured international ingredients and cuisine, communal tables, and was an adventure for guests as it always took place at an undisclosed location.

In 2013 Maria and her brother opened Gallo Negro in Santurce, a trendsetting restaurant and a whiskey bar. As Executive Chef, Maria has continued to focus on using the freshest seasonal produce, while placing an emphasis on taste, whimsical composition, and presentations which highlight unknown international ingredients and cuisine.

In 2019, Chef María Mercedes became the first female in Puerto Rico’s food industry to be nominated for the James Beard Award for Best Chef. She was also selected by Food & Wine Magazine as one of the chefs leading Puerto Rico’s current culinary renaissance.