Chefs in the Caribbean
Female chefs are making waves in the Caribbean and changing the face of the industry through delicious culinary experiences and innovative programs. They are not only award-winners, but also exciting trailblazers who are shaking up the way some resorts look at their ingredients and menus altogether.
From pineapple carpaccio to ceviche to authentic pepper pot, sweet and savory dishes abound and delight. Ready for a bite? Head to Carlisle Bay Antigua, Hilton Curacao, and Hyatt Regency Trinidad to taste the creations of these rising female chefs and experience the flavor of their countries.
CHEF LISA SELLERS, CARLISLE BAY ANTIGUA
Antigua’s Carlisle Bay resort is an oasis of calm and beauty, with the picturesque Carlisle Bay its naturally changing tableau. “Discreet luxury” is their motto, but after dining at one of their four restaurants it’s the decadent palate-pleasers that linger in memory. How does every dish have so much flavor? It’s all in the ingredients. Carlisle Bay’s locally-sourced dining program was
“AS THE ONLY FEMALE CHEF ON ANTIGUA, CHEF LISA BROUGHT A PERSONAL, COMMUNITYMINDED APPROACH TO OUR CULINARY PROGRAM AND DIVERSIFIED OUR SEASONAL MENUS BY BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS WITH LOCAL GROWERS AND SUPPLIERS,” SAID JOHN ROGERS, GENERAL MANAGER OF CARLISLE BAY.
initiated by their former Executive Chef Lisa Sellers, who was the first female executive chef on Antigua.
“As the only female chef on Antigua,
Chef Lisa brought a personal, communityminded approach to our culinary program and diversified our seasonal menus by building relationships with local growers and suppliers,” said John Rogers, General Manager of Carlisle Bay. “This commitment continues today and is evident in Carlisle Bay’s four diverse restaurants, which feature vibrant, seasonal flavors and ingredients – many of which can only be found on Antigua.”
Chef Lisa overhauled the resort’s culinary program to work with more local vendors and embrace the Slow Food Movement, supporting the Antiguan community, culture and environment. Carlisle Bay’s rotating seasonal menu is crafted with local ingredients. Guests enjoy fresh-caught fish and lobster, farm-raised goat and chicken, plus island-grown fruits like the super-sweet Antiguan Black Pineapple, unavailable anywhere else in the world. Local spices, along with herbs and vegetables from Carlisle Bay’s own garden accent the offerings. Chef Lisa’s signature dish is Pineapple Carpaccio with Pineapple & Cardamom Sorbet; guests can savor it on property at Indigo and Jetty Grill.
Carlisle Bay offers a diverse cuisine so guests never want for variety. Afternoon tea is served beachside, celebrating Antigua’s British history. Non-teetotalers will love the “Garden to Glass” fresh ginger or mint garnished cocktails, while movie buffs enjoy a 45-seat cinema with snacks that match the films. For example, catch a screening of “Goldfinger” while sipping a Vesper Martini and munching on “gold” dusted popcorn that will give guests-wait for it--gold fingers. For Chef Lisa’s Pineapple Trio with Pineapple & Cardamom Sorbet recipe see below.
TRIO OF PINEAPPLE (SERVES 6)
Antigua is known for its black pineapple, considered to be the sweetest in the world. The national fruit of Antigua, the pineapple is grown in small batches and is not exported off the island, so it’s only available to experience on Antigua. Carlisle Bay’s executive chef Lisa Sellers (the only female exec chef on Antigua) prepares an elevated version of the black pineapple three ways. The dessert trio pairs finely sliced pineapple, with caramelized pineapple and a pineapple cardamom sorbet, all displayed on the same plate.
Pineapple in savory sugar syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 sprigs rosemary
½ pineapple, peeled, cored and sliced paper thin
Mix sugar and water in a small pot and simmer on medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Add rosemary. Steep for 10 minutes; then remove rosemary. Pour ingredients into a large bowl and set aside to cool. Add pineapple to syrup mixture, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
½ pineapple, peeled, cored and diced into
¼ inch cubes
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup English Harbour Rum (authentic to Antigua) or other golden rum
In a medium bowl, toss pineapple with sugar. In a nonstick frying pan over high heat, heat butter until it foams. Add pineapple and cook for 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Add rum and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cool, cover and refrigerate until use.
Pineapple & Cardamom Sorbet
½ pineapple, peeled, cored and diced 8 tablespoons sugar
½ cup water
¼ tsp freshly ground cardamom 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
In a blender, combine pineapple, sugar, water, lemon juice, and cardamom. Blend until smooth. Place mixture in a covered shallow container and chill for at least an hour or overnight. Then, process in ice cream machine per manufacturer’s instructions.
CHEF VANESSE TWEEBOOM, HILTON CURAÇAO
Tourism is on the rise in Curacao, the colorful island that welcomes all visitors. Willemstad’s multi-hued Dutch architecture is postcard-perfect and the nightlife never stops. Still, most visitors come for the beaches. Hilton Curacao provides ample beach and pool play areas for whatever guests prefer, along with menus and cocktails that complement the turquoise scenery. Hilton Curacao believes that food should accent its environment and so they put their trust in Chef Vanesse Tweeboom, with great reward.
Chef Vanesse Tweeboom’s signature recipe is ceviche and foodies rave about its simple perfection. During “Peruvian Week” guests can learn to make the dish with Chef Vanesse, and enjoy a three-course demonstration dinner as well. Born and raised in Curaçao, Tweeboom studied International Hotel & Business Management in The Netherlands. She loves the
idea of using food to bring people together and offers fun classes during high season: pizza making classes, cookie décor classes and cupcake classes for kids.
“Curacao’s vibrant colors inspire me to have more fun with color in all my foods, not only with my pastries.” Notes Chef Vanesse, “For me, taste and color are very important and I try to maintain the originality of each local dish, while still adding my own special twist.” Chef Vanesse is now the Executive Chef at Hilton Curaçao, but she isn’t resting on her title by any means. Besides cooking she has become fascinated by pastries, beginning to test and develop new recipes of her own. Who says chefs can’t wear two hats?
PASTRY SOUS CHEF AVANELLE JAMES, HYATT REGENCY TRINIDAD
Trinis, as people from Trinidad & Tobago are affectionately called, love their spice. Hyatt Regency Trinidad serves up local heat at Waterfront, their contemporary Caribbean restaurant, as well as at their Sushi Bar. Their motto “Thoughtfully Sourced, Carefully Served” is known throughout the industry, and the quality shows. But the award-winner in their group comes from their sweet side, Chef Avanelle James. A member of the Hyatt team since 2013, James won the Pastry Chef Competition Bronze award during the CHTA’s “Taste of the Caribbean” Culinary Competition in 2009 and won 2nd place in the Trinidad & Tobago Hospitality Institute Iron Chef competition in 2003. For fire, locals know to pour some Trinidad Scorpion pepper on their roti, but for some honey they order the sweet pastries at Hyatt Regency Trinidad.
Antigua Carlisle Bay Resort