Top Chef Simon McKenzie from the Channel Islands arrived in Saint Lucia this week as part of an international chef exchange programme with the Cap Masion Resort and Spa. The highly regarded chef has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants and with world-renowned chefs. He currently works at Bella Luce in Guernsey, and is also the reigning Channel Islands Chef of the Year.
This week Chef Simon met with the local press to share his inspiring journey that was pushed in the direction of cuisine when he was told at 15 by a young girl he barely remembers today that he’d never be a chef.
“So that’s exactly what I became,” he laughed.
Booked with Cap Maison Resort for one week as part of the chef exchange, he said that so far things were going well. He did admit, however, that it was always difficult going into an unfamiliar kitchen.
“When you go into a strange kitchen in another country nothing is the same that it is back home,” he said. “Everyone works different. For the first day it’s kind of, blurry you know, getting yourself organized.”
But organization was one of the biggest career lessons he’d learnt so far, particularly when it came to working in foreign territories.
“I’m really OCD anyway, so I’ve leant to be ultra organized,” he said. “We do quite a bit of work with different countries. It’s great fun for the chefs. It’s kind of just a break from the norm.”
Later in the year Chef Simon is expected to be part of another exchange in Canada. On the part of Cap Maison, Chef Craig Jones said this was the hotel’s first chef exchange for the year, with an objective of bringing something different to guests. Chef Craig himself had been part of a chef exchange event last year, when he worked in the kitchen of Chef Simon at the Old Government House in Guernsey for one night. At the time he brought a taste of the Caribbean to Guernsey, and now Chef Simon is bringing Guernsey to Saint Lucia.
“Guests look forward to it, especially our regulars,” Chef Craig said. “It’s great for the chefs because they get to see their cooking is just as good as many of these guys overseas. It works out well both ways.”
Friday was Chef Simon’s first day at the helm of Cap Maison’s Naked Fisherman restaurant. He will be featured this evening at a fine dining event at The Cliff, and is expected to fly out on Sunday.