Zavante impresses with passion for cooking
For 18-year-old Zavante Garnett, cooking is not just a part of his Texan heritage — it is part of a passion for hospitality that amazed his colleagues at Flanagan’s Irish Pub during the hectic days of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Bermuda.
“I was blown away by this young man,” Chris Garland, the manager of the pub and restaurant, told The Royal Gazette. “It’s hard for people to understand what restaurants can go through sometimes with young people, but to see the difference with this young Bermudian is impressive.
“He’s had to balance high school and now the Bermuda College with this job and some tough hours. Over the America’s Cup weekend, people were putting in 55, 60 hours.”
Zavante’s introduction came not long before he graduated from high school, courtesy of the Berkeley Institute’s career development programme, but “what really made me like cooking was eating”, he said.
Born in Houston, Texas, to a Bermudian mother, Felecia Smith, and an American father, Adrian Garnett, Zavante grew up loving Southern cooking, and he prides himself on his peach cobbler.
“I loved cooking at home with my mom,” he said. “I was young and I was never able to see over the stove. My parents said they’d show me when I was tall enough. Now I’m taller than them.”
Zavante took the first job to come up, at Flanagan’s. Informing the staff of his love of cooking, he found himself chopping onions and peppers in the kitchen.
Restaurant kitchens can be stressful and unforgiving places, but Zavante was happy to be there and swiftly gained a reputation for enthusiasm.
Later he moved on to a hotel job, but came back to Flanagan’s when another student employee failed to show up.
“They called the school and said how much they’d liked me,” he said. “I came back and they taught me how to make burgers. That was my big up, actually. After that they asked me if I wanted a job.”
The hours went up and up, becoming a 40-hour week that involved lengthy details in the Snug Café — and working a lot of holidays.
“I loved it,” he said.
Now studying culinary arts at the Bermuda College, Zavante is finding time-management a crucial skill as he juggles his studies with a sometimes punishing work schedule.
His brothers, Adrian and Joshua Thomas, still live in Houston with his father; closer to home are two sisters, Me’Jon Bridges and Jazmin Simmons.
Sometimes Zavante cooks for his siblings when they are not cooking for themselves.
Although he is the youngest person in the kitchen, Zavante sometimes cooks for his colleagues as well.
His eventual goal: to become a personal chef, which will allow him to spend more time with his family.
“In this business, you’re never off except Christmas,” he said.