Anita Cartagena Brings Spice to Napa Valley


From day one, Anita Cartagena has been all-in to pursue her passion as a chef. Selling her prized possessions and motorcycle to finance what is now an extremely successful restaurant in Yountville, she is now able to look back without regrets.

Owner and executive chef of fast and casual Caribbean cuisine restaurant, Protéa, Chef Cartagena is passionate about providing high-quality service for her customers through tableside delivery. Each morning, Cartagena creates the menu according to what local ingredients are available and in season. Then, collecting resources from vendors and farmers within the community, she is able to cook up masterpieces.

Cartagena prepares meals through slow roasting, braising, and other expertise cooking techniques to create an exclusive and diverse taste for everyday street foods. Describing the menu as “global with Latin influence,” she channels her Puerto Rican heritage and passion for cooking to bring spice to Yountville. Also including flavors and dishes from Cuba, Mexico, and California, there is something for everyone to enjoy at Protéa.

At age 10, her family moved from her native Puerto Rico to Cleveland, Ohio where she pursued careers as a model and actress. In 2008 she took a trip to Yountville that changed her pathway. Eating a meal at The French Laundry sparked her desire to attend culinary school. Opening Protéa in 2016, Cartagena has been able to stay on her toes cooking cuisine from the heart.

Influenced by a family of amazing cooks, from her mother and father to her grandmother, Cartagena credits them for sparking her love for food from a young age.  

Cartagena enjoys being the boss of the house, with a say in what she will accomplish daily. Claiming she would get bored if she cooked the same thing every day, she switches her menu up not only for her as a chef, but also the guests.

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Last year, Cartagena was a featured chef for our Red Carpet Gala Dinner alongside Chicago based Chef, Stephanie Izard of Girl and the Goat and she is back for another round, creating something magical for this year’s Gala that we are sure our VIP ticket holders will enjoy immensely.

While our Red Carpet Gala/VIP tickets are sold out, we encourage you to join us for the single day Taste of Yountville event where you might see Anita and other great chefs hanging out and enjoying the bites of those in their trade.

Lauren Fish