Dec. 15, 2010
Executive Chef Happy Herbivore?
When Scott was transferred to St. Maarten, I was practically skipping. I mean, who wouldn't want to spend a year in paradise? But then after the initial wave of excitement wore off, I starting feeling listless and eventually, I was overrun by panic and fear.
You see, I was finally at a place in my professional life where I was happy--and things seemed to be moving in the right direction.I'd dumped the law to do something I actually enjoyed (cooking) and my first cookbook was ready to make a splash! This, I realized, was what I was born to do--- but could I do it on the island? Would I have sufficient variety and access to vegan staples to write more recipes?!
My friends---my sweet, sweet friends, convinced me that I could make it work anywhere and they promised to send me whole wheat pastry flour and tofu by the boatload--literally--if I needed it.
And while the island doesn't have everything that I'm used to, it has the bulk of what I need. Not to mention, these minor limitations push my creativity limits--and really, is challenge ever a bad thing?
So, I've long gotten over my anxiety and fear... but what I didn't anticipate, is that moving to St. Maarten would be fantastic for my career---a game changer even.
Let me back up.
Earlier this week, La Samanna's Food & Beverage Director, Marc, got wind that Scott was married to a vegan chef. Marc asked if I would be interested in consulting for them--help them add a vegetarian options to their menu-- which, of course, I said I was glad to do. (We subsequently found out a guest checked out of La Samanna due to the inadequate vegetarian options on the menu--doh!).
After a brief meeting on Tuesday morning, I was (tada!) commissioned to design a vegan menu for all four of La Samanna's restaurants, plus some a la carte stuff, bento boxes for the pool bar and various other neat things (like a kids menu!). They're also allowing me a lot of leeway, which just makes this opportunity all the more exceptional.
Admittedly, I was nervous going into a French hotel and a French restaurant as I've associated the French with Julia Child's mentality: I've often wondered to myself: Does a vegetarian look forward to dinner, ever? but everyone at La Samanna--even the head chef, seems really excited about this project.
Speaking of Chef, I also have a lot of respect for him--not only because La Samanna is his territory, but because it takes a strong person to admit they need help. I can't count the times I've gone to a restaurant and the best the chef could offer me was a plate of boring steamed vegetables and white rice...They recognized not only that it's beneficial to have vegan and vegetarian options, but that vegan food is it's own cuisine. Even if it happened in just one kitchen--someone-somewhere-- recognized that veg cooking is a special art, too. (like pastries!)
Anyway, they're planning to roll out my menus on Monday and today I'm meeting with Marc and Chef to discuss my ideas, show them my menus and most importantly---feed them.
I suspect I'll be in and out of the kitchen at La Samanna for the next couple of days---and Scott's going try to get a picture of me in there!
The world is changing Herbies!
UPDATE: Hours before the meeting, my Vita-Mix "died" while trying to blend cooked lentils. This resulted in me not being able to prepare everything and showing up to my meeting with only 4 samples instead of 10. (The Vita-Mix was ultimately "fixed" later but my distaste for this overpriced piece of crap continues).
Despite the technology fumble, and a near break down on my part, I still made it to my meeting, four samples in hand---and... they loved everything!
We talked about my menu ideas--and after a tiny change here and there--my menus were accepted. They'll be rolling out next week!