On Thursday January 14th, 2016 the Cap Maison Resort and Spa hosted a press conference to introduce Saint Lucian Celebrity Chef Shorne Benjamin. Chef Shorne has returned to Saint Lucia, following a ten-year tenure in the United States, to partake in a special Celebrity Guest Chef event at The Cliff at Cap. Though little is known about him locally, Chef Shorne, who usually resides in New York City, is widely recognized in the USA and the international marketplace. Last year he represented Saint Lucia at the 11th International Iron Chef Competition in Toronto, Canada, featuring prominently in mainstream media there.
In a one-on-one interview with the STAR Chef Shorne disclosed that one of his objectives while here is to use local farm produce. “The farmers here work very hard and I just want to represent them for their hard work and present a good meal on a plate by using a lot of good, local produce,” he said. One of his favoured local produce is the christophene. When asked why he replied: “I think sometimes it is not really used, so I am going to use my culinary ability and artwork to showcase this, in addition to the menu I have.”
Ross Stevenson, General Manager of Cap Maison, disclosed on Thursday that working with Chef Shorne marks the start of the resort’s 2016 guest chef series: “Every year in January, February, March we create a series with guest chefs and invite chefs from around the world to cook and bring some of their specialty items and skills for the general public of Saint Lucia and the guests staying at the hotel to enjoy.
“This is the second time that we have been able to convince a Saint Lucian national to come back to their roots.” Stevenson added “This is going to attract Saint Lucians visiting the island in addition to Saint Lucians living on the island too. And I think why it does that is because it creates that difference, it creates an interest, especially when we have a Saint Lucian who has worked in different restaurants in the US creating different skills and influences.”
Said Chef Shorne: “I am going to use pretty much what I have learnt and my heritage and bring it back to Saint Lucia. I have looked at the menu at The Cliff at Cap Maison and it is pretty much similar to what I have been doing in the US and I am excited about going back to my roots and ensuring that there is vibrancy.”
He added: “I am humble and would like everyone to know me for my food rather than as Chef Shorne.”
When asked about his specialties, Chef Shorne told the STAR: “I took the concept of oxtail, which is Caribbean-based, marketed in New York, and there were approximately 2,000 people who tried it and they loved it. My intention was to transform the oxtail. I prepared it with ragout, eggplant, marmalade and they were simply engrossed and curious as to what oxtail was. I was happy to represent me and of course Saint Lucia.”
Chef Shorne intends to use items he remembers while growing up as a child in Saint Lucia. “Something I would like to highlight is the almond, something which is very common in Saint Lucia. As a young boy, I used to eat those when I was hungry. And so I thought, ‘How can I transform this item, which is common in Saint Lucia, into a dish?’ I decided to do a soup with it.”
Chef Shorne inherited his culinary talents from his grandmother who owned a restaurant overlooking the ocean in Soufriere. His family hails from Choiseul and Soufriere but he was born in Castries and resided in Entrepot. He attended the Leon Hess Comprehensive Secondary School and graduated in 1987, remaining on island for a year before travelling abroad. His professional career blossomed post graduation from the prestigious French Culinary Institute, New York.
He worked with famous Master Chef Jean George at the popular ABC Restaurant, NYC; alongside James Jermyn at the award-winning restaurant Maloney & Porcelli, and also at the well-known Lower East Side NYC contemporary restaurant Falai. Shorne is the co-founder of ShorCulinaire Inc., Private Chef and Catering Services.