Having enthusiastically embraced the use of local, sustainable ingredients, the region's top chefs are now scaling new heights of culinary creativity, artistic presentation and superb settings. These are some of the Caribbean's most acclaimed chefs.
Words by Lindsay Thompson
CHEF ERIC RIPERT
BLUE, THE RITZ-CARLTON CAYMAN ISLANDS
The only AAA Five Diamond restaurant in the Caribbean, Blue by Eric Ripert takes sublime seafood to an entirely new level. Under the guidance of the multi-award winning French chef, the kitchen embraces his philosophy of serving fresh fish, simply prepared, with à la carte options divided into Almost Raw, Barely Touched and Lightly Cooked options. World-class cuisine is enhanced by flawless service, an extensive list of rare wines and the incomparable elegance of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
CHEF PETER SCHINTLERMARMALADE, PUERTO RICO
Ethically motivated and endlessly inventive, Marmalade is widely acknowledged as one of the best restaurants in Old San Juan. Chef Peter Schintler seeks out small-scale producers and local suppliers who share his vision for sustainable food production, and turns their goods into a menu that defies classification. Spanning vegan and raw dishes, hearty, slow cooked meats and sinful desserts, his tasting menus promise surprising combinations, explosive flavours and a few timeless classics - but the undisputed star on any menu is Schintler’s white bean soup with truffles and pancetta dust.www.marmaladepr.com
CHEF SIMON CHRISTEY-FRENCHSheer Rocks, Antigua
Perched on a sunset-facing bluff overlooking Ffryes Bay, with wooden decks terraced into the hillside, Sheer Rocks is an irresistible mix of romance and hedonism. Complementing the laid back vibes are top-notch eats, masterminded by British Chef Simon Christey-French. Named Chef of the Year in 2010, the talented young food whisperer brings experience in Michelin-starred establishments and a stint as Sir Richard Branson’s private chef to the table, and is now working with local farmers and fishermen to infuse his tapas and tasting menus with fresh, local ingredients.www.sheer-rocks.com
CHEF JEAN-GEORGES VONGERICHTERDUNE, THE BAHAMAS
Set on a sandy bluff with arresting views of turquoise seas, Dune is worth a visit for the location alone. Conceived and overseen by successful restaurateur and chef Jean Georges Vongerichter, the menu is influenced both by Jean Georges’ classic French training and his experience across Asia. Working in a stunning display kitchen, the culinary team whip up fabulous fusion creations, flavoured with herbs and spices from the resort’s organic gardens. Diners sit under the soaring timber roof of the colonial-style dining room, or out on the breeze-cooled terrace – ideally preceded by cocktails at the adjacent bar.www.jean-georges.com
CHEF MASSIMO DE FRANCESCAAVE & AVECITA, CAYMAN ISLANDS
Located at the Kimpton Seafire Resort, Ave and Avecita share the same elegant, modern design and five-star service, but offer distinct dining experiences. Chef Massimo de Francesca, whose culinary journey has taken him through kitchens in Italy, Canada and the US, blends global influences with seasonal ingredients and locally caught seafood. At Ave, fine fare is given a sophisticated Mediterranean spin, whilst at Avecita, a restaurant within the restaurant, discerning diners can sit at the chef’s bar and watch the culinary team conjure up tapas-inspired delicacies over a wood fired grill.www.seafireresortandspa.com