Alfredo Ayala was born in Barranquitas, Puerto Rico and later graduated from the University of Puerto Rico School of Engineering with a BS in Industrial Engineering. But his love was cooking. While out in California in 1979, he worked as an assistant to his friend, the chef/owner of the Roundtree Restaurant. He then trained with different Bay Area chefs before returning to Puerto Rico to open Ali-Oli Restaurant in 1981. It won the Golden Fork Award as Best Restaurant in Puerto Rico for the next six years. In 1986, always looking for new ideas and techniques, Chef Ayala sojourned at Joel Robuchon’s “Jamin”, in Paris.
In 1988, with two Japanese chefs, he opened Yukiyu Restaurant and Sushi Bar in San Juan. 1994, he opened Chayote, a contemporary Caribbean restaurant. In 1996 he participated in “Taste of the Nation” put on by the SOS (Share Our Strength) group in Miami. He then went on to cook at the James Beard House and at the “Citymeals-on-Wheels” event in New York City.
In May of 1997, the Great Chefs team showed up at Chayote while they were producing the Great Chefs of the Caribbean television series. Chef Alfredo Ayala prepared an entrée of Shrimp Asopao (episode #17) and a dessert, Sweet Yuca Fritters with Fresh Mango and Spiced Rum Butter (episode #13). He also prepared an entrée for the TV crew’s Great Chefs of the World series, Pan Fried Snapper with Baby Arugula and Papaya Salad (episode # 147).
He later turned the restaurant over to his sous chef Mario Pagan, who has recently opened a new restaurant “Laurel: Kitchen & Art Bar” in the Puerto Rico Museum of Art. Meanwhile, Chef Ayala, went on to open the Su Casa at the Hyatt Dorado Beach and “Las Vegas” near the El Yunque Rain Forest, before settling down and running two restaurants, “Alexandra” and Las Palmas Café in the hospice Copamarina Beach Resort in Guanica, Puerto Rico.
For the past three years, he is at home there, “I love it here”, says Chef Ayala, and one of the things he enjoys most is teaching boys, who are young, with a great desire to learn and are well humble.