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Local chef visits a restaurant opened in the 16th century

Local chef and restaurant owner Krista Van Wagner may be best known for her bottled jerk sauce and much-loved Lackawanna restaurant, Curly's. But over the years, this chef, mother, and business owner has found meaning in her life through her extensive charity work that takes the form of year-round fundraising to support annual health missions to the Dominican Republic with non-profit group, Jesse's Children. Once you listen to Van Wagner's tales of her adventures, you quickly feel how passionate she is about her efforts, and her dedication to Jesse's Children and the people of the Dominican Republic seems limitless.

On her most recent trip she took along Buffalo-based videographer Nathan Peracciny to document the group's efforts, The goal was to use stunning visuals in order increase the impact of the group's stateside fundraising efforts throughout the year. Look for that video to be released in the near future. In the meantime, Krista and Nate take us to Krista's favorite Santo Domingo restaurant, Pat'e Palo, a four-star fine dining establishment with a menu that reflects classic European cooking techniques paired with local, seasonal ingredients.

We took a moment to ask Krista a few questions about her visit:

Buffalo Spree: How long have you been volunteering with Jesse's Children?

Krista Van Wagner: 13 years with some years twice

Buffalo Spree: Why was it important for you to document your journey this time?

Krista Van Wagner:  I love the people of the Dominican. It was a challenge to learn about dentistry and sterilization. As a chef I love the Island spices and produce. I believe when I give of my time I receive ten-fold. Love the history, Presidente and merengue dancing.

Buffalo Spree: As a chef, what did you learn from your time spent with the chef at Pat'e Palo?

Krista Van Wagner: I was working with an incredibly talented well trained chef he worked under Alain Ducasse also it is easy for him to bring in ingredients produce from all over the world. I felt I was living my dream. For years I have wanted to share my experiences with a video. We are working on one showing are dental mission, ophthalmology, and micro lending as well


Perhaps what is most intriguing about this oasis is its history. Please watch the video below to see what makes this place so very unique.


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