James Kelly, Executive Chef/Owner of Soma Chef Services, is a Southern New Jersey native who relocated to Costa Rica nearly a decade ago. Jim’s been refining his culinary and hospitality skills since his first restaurant job at the age of 13. He has trained and worked side by side with some of the most innovative chefs in the industry from the beach towns of the North East to Southern coast of California. Jim’s hopelessly obsessed with food and is happiest when he’s in the kitchen. When he’s not, he’s probably visiting organic farms, hanging around barefoot gourmet, on the beach with his family, or out surfing.
After settling in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica Jim immediately opened Bliss, the areas first California style beach cafe. Shortly after he had the opportunity to open Soma Restaurant at Milarepa Hotel. The restaurant was instant success and earned him a great reputation, which quickly lead to catering and personal chef inquiries. He immediately realized that he preferred the intimacy of catering to small groups, interacting directly with his clients to create the perfect menu. Being a personal chef suddenly allowed him the freedom to take his creativity to next level while focusing directly on his client’s specific needs and desires and catering got him nvited to all the best parties in town. He is currently pairing his food obsession with his passion for a perfect dining experience as a service to you.
Soma Executive Chef James Kelly He has trained and worked side by side with some of the most innovative chefs in the industry from the beach towns of the North East to Southern coast of California.
In November 2004 Jim opened Restaurante Soma at Milarepa Hotel. As chef-owner, James took the opportunity to put those years of experience to good use. His years spent traveling, surfing, and cooking throughout Mexico and Central America were clearly evident on the restaurant’s daily-changing menu. The delicate balance of lightness, freshness, flavor and texture that distinguished his food remained heavily influenced by his passion for Asian cuisine. Soma continually exceeded the expectations of Milarepa’s. guests and critics alike during it’s four years of operation earning him a great reputation and opening doors to exciting new opportunities.
By the spring of 2008, Chef James had catered many successful events and had also begun dabbling in the personal chef business for some of his restaurant clients. Immediately he came to realize how much he enjoyed the intimacy of catering to small groups and interacting directly with his clients. Being a personal chef suddenly allowed him the freedom to take his creativity to next level while focusing directly on his client’s specific needs and desires. The result was a pleasantly overwhelming demand for his services. As a consequence James decided to close the restaurant so as to focus his energy on Soma personal chef/catering services and further menu development. He is currently pairing his food obsession with his passion for a perfect dining experience as a service to you.
Chef Matty has been an integral part of the Soma team since 2011. Matt studied classical French cuisine at Stratford Chefs School in Stratford, Ontario, under the guidance of European trained instructors. He loves Italian cuisine, but his main focus is has always been ingredient driven dishes that excite the palate but still maintain the integrity of said ingredients. Before joining the Soma team Matty worked under Chef Wayne Martin in Vancouver, opening 2 restaurants as head chef and entre’ metiere’. He was also employed by Oak bay marine group 2 seasons and worked Head Chef for West Coast Resorts 3 years. Since teaming up with Jim in the kitchen the two have been innovating and working together to create some of the most delicious food in Costa Rica.
Chef Chelsea Turner believes that cooking and eating should be fun and exciting! She has an advanced diploma of Culinary Arts from Dubrulle Art Institute of Vancouver, and worked for one of the most the high profile restaurant groups in Canada, The Glowbal Group. With her classic french training, mixed with her laid back surfing lifestyle, and available Costa Rican ingredients, she’s shaped a style of her own. Something like a coastal flair, mixing fish, seafood or local meats, with fresh herbs, seasonal vegetables and world spices.
She loves to read and is constantly learning about new and interesting cooking techniques.
NOTE of inspiration from Chef Chelsea:
I started to cook when I was old enough to pull a chair over to the stove and stand on it to make my own eggs on the stove. My mother didn’t cook very much and I grew up with a nanny who made the same things every week. Tuna caserole’s on tuesdays, and friday was meatloaf day. Not the good kind, the ketchup crust kind. So naturally I wanted to learn how to cook, so I never had to eat those things EVER again.