Interview: Chef René Cahane of St Lucia's Windjammer Landing

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'The kitchen is one of the best examples of the work hard play hard culture'
Richard Basch

St Lucia is a magical Island in the Caribbean. Windjammer Landing is a spectacular resort with an excellent spa, four restaurants and glorious food. The Daily Meal interviewed 42-year-old English chef René Cahane, who is the head chef of the resort. Energetic and no-nonsense he is very focused on providing his clientele with outspending cuisine.

The Daily Meal: How did you get into cooking?

René Cahane: I was always interested in food, my Mother inspired me to cook, she taught me the basics and it went from there. Also I had a weekend and school holiday job when I was around tweleve or thirteen, it was in a butchers shop, I learnt a lot about meat and use some techniques I learned there to this day.

What kind of atmosphere do you create in the kitchen?

The hustle and bustle of the kitchen is my fuel, the fact that every day is different is what gets me up in the morning, I like to create a fun and energetic kitchen, a place where people want to come and work. We laugh together but we work hard first, I think the kitchen is one of the best examples of the ‘work hard play hard’ culture.

What do you look for when you hire other chefs to assist you in the kitchen?

Passion and attitude, I can teach the rest.

Have you won any awards? 

Placed in the last 16 Roux Scholarship 2002 UK

What is your favorite spice? 

My favorite today (it can change) is vanilla, it is a versatile spice, it can be used in sweet or savory dishes and it adds a warmth and depth of flavor that can lift a dish to extraordinary heights.

What keeps you in cooking?

My passion to create a dining experience for my guests that they will remember, in a hotel the environment is different from a restaurant. A chef in a restaurant creates the food they want to create each day, in a hotel or resort you are driven by many factors such as budget, clientele, location etc. One must create concepts for dining experiences on a daily basis, be it a wedding, special event such as the Super Bowl or a pop up dinner option. The idea is to have menus with something for everyone, therefore the remit is to 'please all of the people all of the time' which is widely touted to be impossible! But the fun and excitement is trying our hardest to make that happen.

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