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Updated: August 7, 2020 / 2020 40 Under Forty Honorees

Xavier Santiago


Xavier Santiago

Age: 38

Company: Carbone’s Hospitality

Title: Executive Chef/Head of Culinary Development

No. of years with current company: 1

Town where I live: Hartford

Town where I work: Rocky Hill, Bloomfield and Hartford

Xavier Santiago was born and raised in Caguas, Puerto Rico, and moved to Connecticut in 1996 at the age of 13. At a young age growing up with a family that loves to cook, he started experimenting and cooking with his grandmother and spent a lot of time with her, walking through her farm and learning the idea of pure food.

He started working in a restaurant at 15 and found an instant connection. He said being a chef is an incredible form of expression and dedication and he’s lucky to do what he loves.

What’s been your biggest professional accomplishment so far in your career?

My biggest accomplishment has been to create a name for myself with lots of hard work and dedication. I’ve been featured in the Food Network “Chopped” competition, which I won. I am the grand champion of the statewide chefs competition called 86′d Culinary Collision and was also able to win best chef 2018.

How are you involved in the community?

I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of the No Kid Hungry foundation and other local and international foundations, including the United Way of CT.

What do you like to do outside of work?

Outside of work I like to spend as much time as I can with my wife and kids. I am a very driven and hardworking person, but family time has always been a priority to me. I enjoy football games, paintball, movies and anything that includes relaxing with family and friends.

How did dealing with the coronavirus pandemic help you grow as a leader?

We had to work with a very small crew and convert our 260-seat restaurant into a take-out location, which has its battles. We decided to stay open and focus so that we were able to provide jobs for people and help the community as much as we could. I think from a leader point of view it helped me become closer with my fellow chefs and just think positive and be optimistic.

Four reasons why you deserve to be a 40 Under Forty:

I started a movement and gave the Latin community a voice in the culinary field.

I won Food Network’s “Chopped” competition and was named best new chef in 2018 and best up-and-coming chef in 2019.

I was named grand champion of a statewide chef competition called 86’d Culinary Collision.

I worked with End Hunger CT, United Way, and other foundations to teach awareness and also help my community.

Fun Fact

I used to be in the music business. I used to rap in Spanish.

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