Proclaiming him self a “Puerto-Mainer” after his recent move to Maine to be a part of Sur Lie, Emil M. Rivera was born and raised on the tropical island of Puerto Rico. There he cut his culinary chops working in some of the island’s finest kitchens such as Augusto’s Cuisine, The San Juan Water Beach Club Boutique Hotel, Bistro de Paris, and Basiliko Restaurant, just to name a few, as well as being an award winning member of the Puerto Rico National Culinary Team. He later moved to Florida where he ran the Catering department and Don Shula’s Steakhouse at the Hilton Naples Tower Hotel. After his stint in the sunshine state, Emil headed further north to Washington DC where he spent four years working with Jose Andres’ ThinkFoodGroup at the flagship Spanish tapas restaurant Jaleo. He was a critical part of the team responsible for the 3.5 stars Jaleo received in the city’s highly anticipated Washington Post’s Fall Dining Guide in 2012 (Tom Siestma, critic).
Now as the Executive Chef of Sur Lie in Portland, Maine (voted one of Maine’s Best New Restaurants by Downeast Magazine in April 2015), this “Puerto-Mainer” loves the relationships he has built with local farms, cheese mongers, and fisheries, helping to support the local industry while bolstering his seasonal offerings. Emil prides himself on the cohesion of diversity in his cuisine, featuring dishes inspired by traditional and contemporary cooking from around the world. His food is simple and elegant, American small plates delivering a unique and high quality product in a comfortable and approachable setting.