Herbie celebrates 50 years in the kitchen
A veteran chef has had a street named after him to mark an amazing 50 years in the kitchens of the island’s top hotels.
Herbie Bascome, 78, has been cooking up a storm at the Fairmont Southampton for more than 40 years after he started in the business at the Hamilton Princess in 1968.
Yesterday, his half-century, which included preparing meals for legendary boxer Muhammad Ali and superstar singer Michael Jackson, was marked with a surprise breakfast celebration.
A much used shortcut to the Riviera Estates on the hotel grounds was renamed Herbie Bascome Way in his honour.
He was also presented with a plaque with his personal recipe for fish chowder.
Mr Bascome said his cuisine was inspired by the Bermuda palate.
He explained: “Being a chef, I’ve worked in a lot of countries, so you develop your own recipe and your own taste and you also develop the taste of a country.
“This is the Bermuda taste — I don’t do anything too spicy because we’re not spice-eating people, we just keep things simple and mild.”
Mr Bascome added: “I could’ve had a lot of opportunities throughout my life, but I just decided this was best.”
He spent most of his life around cooks in his home parish of St David’s before he joined the Hamilton Princess.
He was promoted to sous chef at the Hamilton Princess in 1973 and transferred to Southampton three years later as a core member of their new staff.
Among the other highlights of his career was decorating a cake for star musician BB King.
Mr Bascome said: “It was coming up from New York and the icing they made must’ve fallen apart, so I had to redecorate it.”
The special breakfast was held on the Great Sound lawn of the hotel and was attended by Mr Bascome’s family, friends, colleagues, politicians and trade union representatives.
Kiaran MacDonald, the hotel’s general manager, organised the breakfast with the full support of the hotel’s executive team.
Donna Harvey-Maybury, director of human resources at the hotel, said: “He started off as a young chef and maybe as a union official and we’ve watched this man mature right before our eyes.”
Mr Bascome become famous for his commitment to authentic Bermuda cuisine.
Ms Harvey-Maybury said some guests swore they could tell his dishes from other’s by taste alone.
She added: “Our Bermuda buffet breakfasts on Sundays are known to be the most popular in Bermuda, and that’s because of him.
“You can find on the menu his cassava pie, his shark hash, all of Bermuda’s dishes — that’s his forte.”
Ms Harvey-Maybury added: “He’s known to come in on his day off and cook food for charitable events. When we’ve had colleagues who’ve passed away he has taken responsibility, saying ‘let me take care of the weight because it’s the least I can do’.
“This is a man who’s just simply generous. Generous with knowledge and generous with his talent.”
Mr Bascome plans to pass on his distinctive talents by taking more young chefs under his wing.
He said it was important to teach them dedication to the art, which was crucial to success in the kitchen and life in general.
Mr Bascome added: “I feel like any job you have you should be passionate about it, because that’s the only way you’re going to be productive
“We have people working in the hotel that don’t really want to be working in the hotel, but you have to teach them the importance of the hotel industry to the country and the importance of them to the country.
“If a person comes in with a good attitude you could teach them just about anything.”
Mr Bascome also had a surprise guest at the event — his granddaughter Ebony, who he had just visited at her home in Pennsylvania.
Ms Harvey-Maybury said: “The trick was he was coming in on the same day, but he came in on Air Canada and she came in on an earlier flight.”
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