An Interview with St. Lucia Executive Chef Rene Cahane
Rene Cahane, 42, is from Great Britain and is the executive chef at Windjammer Landing in St. Lucia in the Caribbean. He began cooking as a young man in his kitchen at home as a boy. I enjoyed his food, and I recommend him if you get to St. Lucia. Please enjoy the below interview. He’s a charming fellow and is intensely committed to his cuisine.
How did you get into cooking?
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 twelve or thirteen in a butchers shop. I learned a lot about meat and use some techniques I learned there to this day.
Do you prefer a particular style of cooking?
I love cooking in all forms, however, I have great respect for the Japanese style. The fact that it takes years of training to perform one knife stroke with perfection is a beautiful thing. The dedication of Japanese chefs is an inspiration to me to always continue to strive for perfection.
What kind of atmosphere do you create in the kitchen?
The hustle and bustle of the kitchen is my fuel, and 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?
I placed in the last 16 Roux Scholarship 2002 UK.
What is your favorite spice? Why?
My favorite today (it can change) is vanilla. It is a versatile spice, and it can be used in sweet or savory dishe. It adds a warmth and depth of flavor that can lift a dish to extraordinary heights.
What keeps you in cooking?
My passion is 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.