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Name: Ron Johnson
Position: Culinary artist, Savory Art Culinary & Consultation Service
Guardian Business: Can you briefly describe your experience in the tourism sector and what your role is today?
Ron: I've been a part of the hospitality industry since the age of 16. I was an apprentice chef at the Atlantis Resort & Casino and eventually left my post for educational pursuits. However, during my tenure at the property, I've always felt a strong sense of pride and responsibility ensuring guest satisfaction, simultaneously pleasing my superiors. Whether local or international cuisine was requested, working independently or with a team, contentment was the primary goal. It should be noted that in most areas of people activity, food is involved either in overt or subtle ways.
After attaining my formal educational goals, I've currently been active as a personal/private chef for celebrities, affluent individuals and occasionally working aboard yachts (seven in total thus far), cruising to the Exuma Cays and sometimes Harbour Island, showcasing elements of island flare and other cuisines to the best of my ability. At 31, I would see myself as a culinary ambassador of sorts, particularly to those unfamiliar with tropical cuisine.
GB: Why did you choose to work in tourism as a career?
Ron: At first, the career chose me, along with my mother's stern guidance and foresight. After graduation from high school, I had no idea of what path I would take. I felt idle, without purpose and eager to make a quick buck. I enrolled at The Bahamas Hotel Training College (now called School of Hospitality Training Studies) and found myself performing fairly well, particularly out of fear and love. The fears of letting anybody think I was inadequate were intertwined with my affinity for the profession.
I eventually simmered down and found it was something that I could handle fairly well. It allowed me to be creative with my hands, only limited to what my mind could conceive. A friend told me that certain African tribes believed that your spirit/vibe was transferred into your food creations. I would hope people get an overwhelming sense of love and commitment when they taste what I create.
GB: What has been your most memorable moment?
Ron: Most experiences I've had thus far have their own merit in my life. One in particular, as Montell Williams personal chef aboard a three-week yacht trip throughout the Exuma Cays, still permeates in my memory. Although I've had the pleasure of cooking for him a few times prior to the most recent trip, we had a chance to really have in depth discussions about my future in general and I got to interact on a higher level with his family and staff; they were truly appreciative of what I fed them and the level of professionalism I maintained. Beware of getting too 'familiar' with a guest or client by the way.
Notwithstanding, they were appreciative to the point that they questioned and hesitated dining out on other yachts they got invited on or local restaurants because the precedent I set made them compare my performance; they said it was better than others. The reassuring moment came when he complimented my mother about my professionalism and gave me a hefty 'thank you' gift that made me smile from ear to ear; he personally gave me his contact information as well.
GB: Has the industry changed since you started your career? How?
Ron: Where to begin? I'm a bit at a disadvantage properly responding to this, as my personalized service isolates me to a degree. However, I converse with colleagues and make observations as well. On a side note, the common misperception is that when one sees a chef jacket of sorts, they automatically assume you are employed at a hotel. There are other atypical, unconventional places chefs work at such as stand-alone restaurants and chocolate factories, as well as in positions as personal chefs, food and beverage directors and managers of franchises and supermarkets. The industry has changed in other ways as well to my knowledge. As we are in the Information Age, access to revered techniques, recipes and ideas are easily accessible at the speed of touch and type. I'm also noticing a stronger push for utilizing native grown produce.
GB: What should The Bahamas focus on to stay competitive?
Ron: This is a hard question to answer in that a definite response does not justly address a myriad of issues one may perceive. However, I can speak to factors such as nutrition, redefining and elevating our cuisine and adapting more European culinary disciplines in our forte. Generally speaking, our food is truly tasty and satiating. Tourists from across the globe make an effort to try chowders, stews and souses, fritters, peas n' rice, Bahama Mamas and other local gastronomy. Adversely, our diet impairs our health. Finding creative ways to preserve or create new flavors with an emphasis on wellbeing for the health conscious or apprehensive tourist (or native) is barely exploited.
Lastly, for those with a high appreciation of fine dining, we can improve on presentation and modern techniques; the taste is already there.. I'd like to see a Bahamian restaurant achieve a Michelin Star or three, fully exploiting local produce. That would definitely garner attention to our country and perhaps promote more food-based tourism to a different audience.
Freeport, Grand Bahama Island - In
May 2010, the proprietors of Island Java located in Port Lucaya, began
operations of a new restaurant in the Port Lucaya Marketplace on Grand
Bahama Island. The restaurant is known as Mamadoo's Restaurant, or
Mamadoo's where local cuisine meets Bahamian creativity.
The Restaurant features a signature line of innovative Bahamian
inspired seafood and barbeque dishes, with gourmet pizzas/flat
bread along with fruit infused vodka like sappa dilly, love vine, guava,
mango and tamarind...
Bahama, Bahamas -
Be comfortable this New Year's Eve! Join us for our
Blue and White Party on December 31st at Mamadoo's Restaurant. Tickets at the door.
Open Bar from 10pm to 1am with a Champagne Toast at midnight. Complimentary hors d'eouvres. 2-4-1 and beers 2-4-6 from 6pm-2am. Mamadoo's is the spot to watch the fireworks with less crowd.
Complimentary New Year party favours.
Midday Martini Madness from 12noon until. 2-4-1
UNDER THE theme "United in Love and Service, " The Bahama Mamas, Ann Marie Turner and Gaylene Francis in association with Mix Master David will present The Celebration of the 38th anniversary of the Bahamas Independence.
The event will take place on Saturday, July 9, at the Vibes Night Club, 4469 Glenwood Road, Decatur, GA 30035 and will be hosted by Bahamian national and international media personality AFRICA-ALLAH of www.diradiocast.com.
Tribune Entertainment understand that there will be special guest appearances by Bahamian rap artists RAPPQuelle and SosaMan Major courtesy of DIRadioCast.
According to the DS3 Entertainment Group, 2 ...
The incident that resulted in
Trinidadian/ Brooklyn-based artiste
album "Standing" slated to be
released in 2011 had its beginning in 2008 when Mr. Lee G went to
Trinidad to promote his music. Since he did not grow up in his birth
country the artiste wanted to let "his people" know about his music and
introduced a CD dedicated to his mother, entitled "Mama". Two weeks
later he was invited to perform at a stage show in Trinidad. When the
after party was over Mr. Lee G left the venue alone and was approached
by a vehicle and 6 shots were fired at him. 3 bullets hit him in his
arm, back and leg.
He has been spreading his message musically for many years blending
various musical influences into his culture reggae sound. As lee G says,
whats makes the difference is "the soul in the music".
Freeport, Grand Bahama - Enjoy
Afternoon Tea at Mamadoo's Restaurant.
Available any day we are open
between 11:30am and 4pm. Reserve your table now.
Perfect for a business meeting, birthdays, showers, or any gathering of friends!
Enjoy plain or coconut scones, clotted cream and strawberry preserves.
Sandwiches (Cucumber and Mint Cream Cheese; Prosciutto with Asparagus;
and Salmon Rosette with Caviar)...
"Fallen Transitions",work by the 2011 summer Junior Residents at POPOP Studios CVA June Collie and Richardo Barrett, continues this week at POPOP's gallery.Consisting of both video and painting installations, the work holds a meaningful exchange about film and individuality. Call 322-7843 or visit www.popopstudios.com for visiting information.
The Embassy of the Republic of Cuba opened the exhibition"A Man, A Woman, An Island"by artists Yamile Pardo and Edel Bordon on October 19th. The first exhibition in The Bahamas by this husband and wife team present thought-provoking sculptures and paintings from a modern Cuban perspective. It continues for a month and is open to the public to visit during the Embassy's working hours.
"Birth Mark"closes this weekend at The Ladder Gallery in the New Providence Community Center on October 24th. Work by College of The Bahamas students Charlthorn Strachan, Preston Hanna and Javon Nixon examine human connection in this poignant and arresting display of work. Hours for the gallery are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.
The second All Ceramics Exhibition"My Flamboyant Teapot"continues at Doongalik Art Gallery on Village Road. Featuring teapots in all playful shapes, sizes, colors and textures by Jessica Colebrooke, Sue Bennett-Williams and Quentin Minnis, viewers will muse on the culture, histories and many uses of the teapot through time and place--and certainly will never wonder what more can be done with teapots in clay. It runs until October 28th.
Work from the Central Bank's 28th Annual Art Competition and Exhibitionfor its Open Category is on display until October 28th. With the theme for this year being"So, So Beautiful", pieces explore the natural beauty of The Bahamas while few take on daring perspectives and examinations into conventional beauty.
"Bahama Mama",the inaugural exhibition by the Public Treasury Art Program, continues this month at the Public Treasury Building on East Street. The exhibition is a platform for the female Bahamian artists practicing in a range of media to examine the complexities of femininity as prompted by the theme. It runs until February 2012.
"The F-Factor: Female Artists of The Bahamas"continues at the D'Aguilar Art Foundation. Curated by Holly Parotti, the exhibition includes 24 female participants who have impacted the visual arts community and Bahamian art movement. To see the exhibition in a wide range of media, call the D'Aguilar Art Foundation at 322-2333 to make an appointment between 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday or Thursday.
"Kendal Hanna: Happy Birthday to Me"continues at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. In celebration of his 75th birthday, the collection of 143 pieces details Kendal Hanna's biography and artistic career carrying the torch for abstract expressionism. Curator of the exhibition Dr. Erica James, who worked with Kendal Hanna for seven years documenting his life, says of the experience:"People will find the show very interesting because life is such a journey and life is about living with your arms wide open and taking it in, and Kendal has really done it. It's a complicated thing but what remains is the art and I think people are going to be blown away."
The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas presents"My Kid Could Paint That"as part of their Film Series on Friday, October 28th at 7 p.m. In keeping with the theme of the Kendal Hanna Retrospective Exhibition,"Happy Birthday to Me,"now on at the NAGB, the Gallery is pleased to host a series of films that delves into the relationship between the mind and the creation of art. Four-year-old Marla Olmstead, from Binghamton, New York, became the sensation of the art world for her abstract artwork, which has sold for thousands of dollars per piece. The saying,"I could paint that", is commonly expressed amongst gallery and museum goers especially referring to abstract expressionist art. This film explores whether it is indeed possible to do exactly what an artist can.
The Nassau Music Society launches its 2011-2012 season under the patronage of H.E. Sir Arthur Foulkes, Governor General, with a performance by Dmitri Berlinskyon violin and Elena Bakshton the piano. It is rare to find an artist who has achieved the impeccable credentials and uncompromising artistry of Dmitri Berlinsky. As a soloist and chamber musician, Mr. Berlinsky's intention is to bring music's spirit to his audience, reaching levels above mere entertainment. Described as"the pianist with the magic touch"by the Washington Post and as"one the most intriguing pianists of her generation"by the Miami Sun Post, Elena Baksht captivates her audiences from the moment she appears on the stage with a combination of profound lyricism, dazzling technique, and charismatic presence. Their programme will include works from M. Ravel, E. Chausson, P. Tchaikovsky and P. de Sarasate. A performance commences tonight, Saturday October 22nd, 2011 at St Paul's Church Hall in Lyford Cay at 7:30PM. You may reserve online anytime at http://www.nassaumusicsociety.org/reservations.
Beaders in Paradisecontinues today and tomorrow at The Wyndham Nassau Resort with exciting classes on jewelry-making and craft-making by international teachers Sandra Lupo, Melissa Grakowsky, Jamie North, Leslee Frumin and Melissa Cable. To see descriptions, schedules and prices, check out their website at http://beadersinparadise.com.
Atlanta, GEORGIA - Bahama Mamas, Ann Marie Turner and Gaylene Francis in association with MIX MASTER DAVID present The Celebration of The 38th Anniversary of The Bahamas Independence under the theme "United in Love and Service" hosted by Bahamian national and international media personality AFRICA-ALLAH of diradiocast.com. Special Guest appearances by Bahamian Rap Artists RAPPQuelle and Sosa Man Major courtesy of DIRadioCast.
2011 has been a celebratory year for Bahamians residing in Georgia. After an outstanding Peachtree Carnival turnout, Memorial Day Weekend and a well attended Caribbean heritage display at The Capital in June, Bahamian promoters have been inspired to reach out to the Bahamian community...
Nassau, Bahamas - Crowds filled The Public Treasury Building
on Friday 18th May as it opened its doors to the general public for its second
Brotherhood. The evening
brought together supporters, patrons, and art lovers from the public and
private sectors, the creative industry, several educational institutions along
with the participants from New Providence, Abaco and Grand Bahama. It was
undoubtedly a well-attended evening that was enjoyed by many.
Following the success of its Inaugural
Bahama Mama featuring female artists and writers this spring PTAP geared
its focus toward recognizing young Bahamian men. Sixteen professional artists
and seventeen high school students were selected to participate in this all
male event which began with a three week mentorship program and culminates with
a five month exhibition where the artists showcase their work alongside their
Chef Devan McPhee remembers vividly the day he went to church and was asked by his pastor what he wanted to be in life. The youngster, seven or eight at the time, thought back to the fact that he had been watching the Food Network before he left out of the house that Sunday morning, having just gotten cable installed, and said he wanted to be a chef because he'd just seen them on television. His pastor prophesied that young McPhee would be one of the best chefs The Bahamas would see and at a very young age at that.
That pastor's prophecy seems to be coming true as Chef McPhee, now 25, owns his own restaurant and bar. It was just in May that he signed on the dotted line to lease the Simmer Down Restaurant and Stir It Up Bar at the Marley Resort on Cable Beach where he's certainly simmering some amazing pots and stirring up delicious libations.
Simmer Down Restaurant showcases a fusion of Bahamian and Jamaican food with an international flair as he complements the cuisine with French and European touches and relies on lots of spices and herbs to his foods making him one of the hottest young chefs in the country.
"Our theme in the kitchen is we always cook with love and we serve food prepared with love, and translating that over to the bar, we provide drinks to complement the food," he says.
Even though he's new to the restaurant ownership business, Chef McPhee is not new to the kitchen and definitely not new to the Simmer Down Restaurant kitchen as he was the executive chef prior to the resort closing for 10 months. Upon its reopening, he gladly took charge of his own fate, switching up the menu to reflect his cooking style and his Bahamian heritage, and he's kept some of the old favorites that were hits.
While the menu is exciting all around and offers something for everyone -- including vegetarians, the chef says there are a few menu items that are chef's choice and a must try -- items he considers his signature items.
From the soups, the Lobster and Pumpkin Bisque (infused with ginger and curry, topped with a cinnamon cream dollop) he gives two thumbs up.
"It's a burst of flavors and not what you expect with the fresh ginger, curry and cinnamon cream dollop. Lobster bisque is standard on restaurant menus, but when you taste the pumpkin in there with the ginger ... the pimentos, the fresh thyme, it's a burst of flavor and then the cinnamon cream dollop mellows it out."
While he says all salads are good, he's most pleased with his Caribbean lobster and mango salad that he says he came up with off the fly. "I was poaching some lobster for the lobster bisque one day and there was some mango on the table, and I saw the yellow and the white and some cherry tomatoes and I said let's try something. I marinated it in a passion fruit dressing with fresh basil, ginger ... I played around with it and I tried it as a chef's special that night with a blueberry balsamic drizzle to go with it to bring out the color, topped it off with fresh greens and toasted coconut and it was a hit." From that night it made the menu.
If he's sitting down to dine, he opts for a callaloo and spinach vegetable empanada, just to add a different touch to the courses if you're having a three-course meal. It's also a dish he says vegetarians would appreciate as well as it's healthy. The baked empanada is a puff pastry stuffed with Jamaican cheddar cheese which he says balances out the flavors of the callaloo and bitterness of the spinach.
The Down Home Roasted Organic Duck (marinated in pineapple and Bacardi rum with island gratin potatoes, broccoli rabe and cinnamon glazed carrots) makes this restaurant owner proud. It's presented with a sweet potato gratin, garnished with fried plantain and they make a pineapple and coconut rum sauce to go with it.
The Bahamian lobster duo (coconut cracked conch and broiled with a Jamaican vegetable run down, homemade mango chutney and drizzled with a lobster essence) is another menu favorite.
And you should not leave the Simmer Down Restaurant without trying dessert. The must have item is the Mama Lur's apples 'n cream (a warm crumble with fresh apples, and fresh guavas with ginger vanilla ice cream and apple cider reduction).
Chef McPhee says he gets his guavas from the islands and freezes them for this dessert, because he says there's nothing like the taste of real guava. They also make their own ice cream and the dish is topped off with caramelized pecans, crème caramel and finished with toasted coconut.
With a number of other options on the menu, Chef McPhee prefers to keep his menu small and personalized. But he intends to change the menu with the seasons. As we are in the summer months, the menu reflects a lot of fruits, colorful sauces and dressings. In the fall and winter he intends to pull out ingredients like star anise and cinnamon to warm things up, and offer heartier options like rib eye and tenderloin and a lot more soups to go with the cooler temperatures.
With a kitchen staff he handpicked because they had the same vision that he had for the restaurant and bar that he now owns. "I picked them because I wanted to share my knowledge with tem and I didn't want anyone who would be complacent because they'd been working here prior to the resort closing," said Chef McPhee. "I wanted to start fresh. I wanted it to be like night and day and the first thing I did was to reduced menu prices drastically, because people loved the place, but they talked about the prices, and I try to work with the locals pocket," he says. The chef even offers a daily three-course prix fixe meal special that changes weekly. For $55 you get a soup or salad and usually it's the lobster bisque or shrimp appetizer; you get a choice of the jerk chicken medallion or the chef's special which is the fish of the day, and a dessert -- either the Mama Lur's Apples and Cream or the Caribbean Chocolate Vibes.
"Going into this I knew I had to do something different, because the place had already existed and try to get that same market, but make it my market," says Chef McPhee.
To make your Simmer Down Restaurant experience unique, he offers a different experience nightly. He came up with "Taxi Nights" on Monday and Tuesdays to catch the tourist market; Wine Down Wednesdays for people who like wine and free tapas; and Thursday and Fridays are corporate happy hour when he does exotic martinis and specials and Saturdays are known as stirred up and sizzlin'. A five member jazz band On Cue performs from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays as well.
At 25, Chef McPhee's future is in his own hands as a restaurant owner, but he says as an apprentice chef while he trained under many great chefs in the hotels, he realized he didn't want that to be him -- working in the same kitchen year after year, becoming programmed. He wanted to make a name for himself
"Even though it's a risk, the good thing about it is that I took this venture because it's a smaller operation where I could start out small and gradually grow to the level that I want to be at ... and I was already familiar with the place [Simmer Down Restaurant] and it was just a matter of polishing up some stuff, getting the menu together and choosing the right staff."
Chef McPhee credits Chef Addiemae Farrington of the Culinary Hospitality Management Institute, the late Chef Jasmine Clarke-Young, Chef Paul Haywood of Altantis, Chef Wayne Moncur of the Ocean Club and Chef Tracey Sweeting (his former executive chef at the Marley Resort) with giving him the training that has given him so much confidence to do what he's now doing.
"They trained me so well in all areas that I'm able to be creative and do what I'm doing, with hot food because I'm a trained pastry chef," said Chef McPhee. "They really gave me a good school bag to carry. I can pull out things and be versatile. Plus, it's in my heart, and you have to cook with love. You can have the fancy name, and your food can look pretty, but that passion and soul has to be in it."
Chef McPhee even keeps his kitchen open a little longer than most restaurants, taking his last order at 10:30 p.m. after opening at 6 p.m.
For the chef, the new venture is fun, but scary as he knows he has the livelihood of his staff in his hands.
At Stir It Up Bar he says you have to have the Blue Razzberry Martini and the Jamaica Me Crazy. It just sounds crazy and it's fun and people enjoy them. I wanted to add my flair to the menu and these are my signature ones. They're new to the menu, because coming into the restaurant and bar business, I had to bring something new to the table. I reduced the drink prices too and kept it straight across the board.
It's new, it's scary but fun, because you have the livelihood of staff in your hands and they have to be paid. "I realize what it is to be an employee and now an employer, even though I'm at a young age. It's like you have an additional pair of eyes -- you watch everything, things you didn't care about before you now care about -- even on the service aspect. "
CARIBBEAN SPICY SHRIMP APPETIZER WITH POTATO AND SWEET CORN PUREE
6 - 16/20 shrimp
½ oz Jerk seasoning
2 oz homemade ginger and garlic chili sauce
½ oz herb marinade
For the potato and sweet corn puree
½ lb Yukon potato, cooked
4 oz sweet corn puree
3 oz heavy cream
1 oz butter
Sugar, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the tropical fruit salsa:
4 oz fresh mango diced
4 oz fresh ripe pineapple diced
1 oz bell pepper fine diced
1 oz red onion diced
1 oz distilled white vinegar
1 tsp fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 orange
2 oz fresh banana mashed
Salt and pepper, to taste
Honey as needed
Combine ingredients in a stainless steel bowl and mix together, season to taste with alt and pepper and let stand 30 minutes before serving.
For the shrimp: Season the shrimp with salt and jerk seasoning and herb marinade, let stand 30 minutes. Grill to desired doneness and top with chili sauce, Finish shrimp in the oven and serve.
For the potato and sweet corn puree: Puree ingredient together to desired taste and consistency, season and serve. Garnish with herb oil and chips. Combine all ingredients together and blend thoroughly.
For the tropical fruit salsa: Combine ingredients in a stainless steel bowl and mix together, season to taste with alt and pepper and let stand 30 minutes before serving.
CARIBBEAN MANGO AND LOBSTER SALAD
1 lb spiny lobster meat cooked and sliced
1 oz Spanish onion fine diced
2 oz fresh cherry tomatoes chopped
Juice of 2 lemons
2 large mangoes
1 oz ginger chopped
1 tsp salt
Salt and fresh goat pepper
1 oz chopped cilantro
1 tsp sugar
4 oz passion fruit dressing
Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl; add enough dressing to bind ingredients. Be sure to season with salt and pepper. Mix, chill and serve. Garnish with micro greens chilled asparagus and a lemon vinaigrette.
MAMA LURR'S APPLES 'N CREAM
4 Granny smith apples
1 can uava shells
1 tsp cinnamon
½ cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 star anise
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ tbs butter
½ oz flour
3 oz home made vanilla ice cream
½ cup butter
1 ¼ cup flour
2 tbs sugar
2 tbs raisins
2 tbs crushed almonds/ walnuts
Peel and slice apples. In sauce pan melt butter, sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice and star anise. Add guavas and sliced apples. Let simmer for about two minutes. Thicken slightly with flour. Place in bowl and allow to set.
For crumble: Fold in at room temperature butter with the flour into small pieces. Add sugar, raisins, and almonds. Place on top of apple and guava mixture and bake for 4-8 minutes. Serve with ice cream and add toasted coconut.