Chef Manuel Romero’s passion for cooking began at the age of 12 years old when he recalls watching and assisting his mother in the kitchen. As a native of Spain, his dishes are heavily influenced by traditional Spanish cuisine. With over 20 years in the hospitality industry, Chef Romero prides himself on always seeking out new techniques and continuing to improve his trade. He has won numerous awards for his authentic and innovative dishes that focus on flavor, texture and presentation. Romero is the executive chef/owner of both Olea in New Haven, CT and Kala Bistro in North Haven, CT.

What is the biggest influence on your style of cooking?

Spanish traditional cuisine was the first and biggest influence on my cooking style. Spending time in cities like New York introduced me to world cuisine that I’ve adopted into my repertoire.

What is your favorite dish to prepare?

I love cooking anything, including desserts, but I have to admit that fish and shellfish might be my favorite.

Did you attend culinary school? What restaurants did you work in before opening your own?

I studied at New York Technical College and worked at Meigas restaurant in New York City and also Ibiza restaurant in New Haven.

What is your most popular dish?

We have had several popular dishes since day one; such as, the suckling pig, gazpacho, oxtail croquettes and tuna tartar.

What do you love most about what you do?

I really enjoy and have lots of fun cooking. I like seeing customers appreciate the effort of a whole team to provide them with a positive culinary experience.

Where do you see your epicurean journey taking you in the future?

Cooking is my passion and hopefully I will keep learning how to use different ingredients and techniques to create new dishes.

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