What's Cookin' Cayman - Best Chefs 2019

Candid Q&A's from Cayman's most 'colourful' chefs


Federico Destro
Bacaro Chef de Cuisine

What is your favourite dish to cook and why?
Risotto, because it's easy and difficult at the same time. You can only get it perfect if you properly follow every step and time it right.


What is the best/trickiest thing about being a chef in Cayman?
The best is that you get to work with chefs from all over the world and learn about different techniques. The trickiest is that, being an Island, available of certain products or equipment can be limited, so patience and good planning are key!

What do you feel are the three most important qualities for anyone looking to get into the food industry, or become a chef?
Commitment, passion and a good sense of humour.

Why do you think Cayman is such a culinary hotspot?
The number of restaurants compared to the population is very high, so the strong competition encourages chefs to raise the bar and push their limits. 

What is your first, or favourite food memory?
Helping my mom make gnocchi at home, when I was about five.

If you had your own cooking show, what would you call it?
'Try this'.


Who is the biggest influence on your cooking?

My mother! I grew up eating her delicious food.


What is your favourite cookbook?
'Veneto in Bocca' (translation: 'Veneto in the mouth'). It is a very old Venetian cookbook, with simple recipes written in Italian, English and original Venetian dialect.

What is your favourite kitchen gadget?
Our Sonos audio system! We listen to mostly old rock music at work, which keeps us all in a good mood while cooking.

What would you offer as the best cooking tip for a novice?
Forget about Master Cehf and all those cooking shows. Keep your feet on the ground and stay humble, because it's a very long and tough road before you can call yourself a chef.

Fill in the blank: If i weren't a chef, I would be...
I have asked myself this same question, and I still don't have an answer. Probably something related to sports!

What's your culinary guilty pleasure?
There's nothing guilty about an herb butter, pork belly and foie gras sandwich - so let's not judge!



Britta Bush
Chef at Conscious Cafe

What is your favourite dish to cook, and why?
Sourdough, because of the fermentation process, is my initial answer. But to go a bit deeper, it fascinates me to transform an ingredient that has been stripped of its nutrients, and subsequently demonized as being to blame for many modern ailments. Organic wheat, especially heirloom varieties, with all of its parts (i.e. wheat germ, wheat oil, protein, etc.), especially FERMENTED wheat, as in sourdough, is actually good for you. Just read Michael Pollan, or watch Cooked on Netflix.

What do you feel are the most important qualities for anyone looking to get into the food industry, or become a chef?
Dedication to ingredients. Passion about what you are doing. Belief in yourself.

Why do you think Cayman is such a culinary hotspot?
The fusion of cultures and flavours! Due to Cayman's location and the booming tourism industry, we have a global palate. As well as the roster of truly talented local chefs, there are chefs who reside here from around the world and bring with them unique home flavours to fuse into their food.

What is your first, or favourite food memory?
The first and most vivid image that comes to mind is German bread rolls.

If you had your own cooking show, what would you call it?
'Conscious Cooking'.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Currently it's The Wicked Healthy Cookbook, but I also love Wild Fermentation.

What is your favourite kitchen gadget?
My Kitchen-Aid Mixer with attachments.

What would you offer as the best cooking tip for a novice?

Work with what you know and love, but also seek out unknown ingredients. Buy the and google what to do. Or ask the farmer. Always ask the farmer!

Fill in the blank: If I weren't a chef, I would be...?
Taking cooking classes from Grandmothers!

What do you think is the next worthwhile food/dining trend?
The rejuvenation of DIY fermentation! With abundant awareness surrounding the benefits of eating a diet rich in plant power, the next level is gut health. Fermentation offers fascinating health benefits, and also enables complex flavours to be represented in dishes with minimal ingredients.

What's your culinary guilty pleasure?
Gelato.

What has been your most humbling experience?
Working alongside talented chefs for large events and getting tongue-tied every time Anthony Bourdain held a microphone to my mouth.



Alex Menegon
Head Chef at Ristorante Pappagallo

What is the best/trickiest thing about being a chef in Cayman?
The best thing about being a chef in Cayman is that once guests appreciate the quality of your work, word gets around quickly. However, this is a double-edged sword, because a bad meal can ruin your reputation!

Why do you think Cayman is such a culinary hotspot?
There are approximately 120 nationalities residing in the Cayman Islands. This multitude of cultures brings with it a culinary diversity unique to these small Islands.

What is your first, or favourite food memory?
I will never forget the first dish I ever prepared which was a cold 'insalata di mare' (translation: seafood salad). There is a certain method to preparing a chilled seafood salad. For one, a good chef must master the different techniques required in preparation of different fish.

If you had your own cooking show, what would you call it?
'Distractions are Forbidden'.

Who is the biggest influence on your cooking?
Chef Renato Piccolotto, who has been a chef at the hotel Cipriani in Venice for more than thirty years. I worked for 12 years under his supervision and he made it possible for me to become a chef.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Generally I like very traditional cookbooks, but I also appreciate the more innovative dishes made with simple recipes.

What is your favourite kitchen gadget?
I always keep a spoon in my pocket that allows me to taste and check food at any time. Don't worry, I wash it after each use!

What would you offer as the best cooking tip for a novice?
As far as tips, I have many, but perhaps the most important one I would share is: always taste test the dish that you are serving!

Is there a secret ingredient in your kitchen?
Passion.

Fill in the blank: If I weren't a chef, I would be...
Sailing around the world on my own sailboat.

What do you think is the next worthwhile food/dining trend?
I think we're moving more and more towards a lighter, low-fat cuisine, as well as focusing on quality over quantity.

What's your culinary guilty-pleasure?
My culinary guilty pleasure is to be seated as a 'osteria senz'oste' (tavern without a host), eating a salami panino, with a nice bottle of Cartizze prosecco.



Chef Teerapol & Chef Srisung
Chefs at Thai Orchid

What is your favourite dish to cook, and why?
Teerapol: Phad Thai. The challenge is making the perfect noodle consistency.
Srisung: Thai Dessert! it's my passion.

What is the trickiest/best thing about being a chef in Cayman?
It is difficult to find some Thai ingredients on Island, and they can be very costly. That's why we grow a lot of fresh produce ourselves, and make what we can from scratch.

What do you feel are the most important qualities for anyone looking to get into the food industry, or become a chef?
A willingness to learn, creativity and a good work ethic.

Why do you think Cayman is such a culinary hotspot?
We have very talented chefs on Island that are always pushing culinary boundaries.

What is your first or favourite food memory?
Teerapol: Making my first Thai Curry.
Srisung: Trying Thai custard for the first time.

Who is the biggest influence on your cooking?
Teerapol: My Grandmother and Mom.
Srisung: My Mom as well.

What is your favourite kitchen gadget?
Teerapol: My Chef knife.
Srisung: My commercial mixer

What would you offer as the best cooking tip for a novice?
You must work hard and apply yourself. Familiarize yourself with every job in the kitchen.

What do you think is the next worthwhile food/dining trend?
Molecular Gastronomy is becoming more and more accessible for smaller restaurants. That would be fun to dabble in!

What's your culinary guilty-pleasure?
Definitely American fast food. We love pizza and KFC.

Fill in the blank: If I weren't a chef, I would be...

We can't imagine doing anything else!