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Cambridge Beaches launches pop-up restaurant

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Cambridge Beaches executive chef Keith DeShields is launching DeShields’ Bistro pop-up at the resort (Photograph supplied)

Cambridge Beaches Resort & Spa in Sandys has launched a pop-up restaurant celebrating the Jamaican Bermudian heritage of its long-time executive chef Keith DeShields.

DeShields’ Bistro is now open, offering everything from callaloo pasta to warm pressed oxtail terrine and lobster tail wrapped in pork belly.

“One of my favourite things on the menu is the coconut milk poached rock fish fillet,” Mr DeShields said.

The dish was inspired by his childhood memories of cooking fish caught off the rocks in Devonshire.

“We would put some sea salt or wild herbs on the fish we caught,” the chef remembered. “Then we would have a fire and cook it on the rocks in foil.”

He was born in Jamaica (Jamaican mother, Bermudian father) and moved to Bermuda when he was seven or eight. His family were foodies and often had cooking battles when he was a child.

“Sometimes, I get nostalgic for certain foods and flavours from my childhood,” he said. “Then I have to duplicate it to match the memory. Then I will have someone try it and get the feedback. I will go from there. That is how most of my stuff comes out.”

Mr DeShields likes to create experiences for his customers.

“I want to tell a story,” he said.

DeShields’ Bistro will run for the next three or four months. It is a test run for a restaurant concept Cambridge Beaches hopes to launch when its three-year multimillion refurbishment project is over.

“Keith has developed some really cool things here,” said Cambridge Beaches general manager Clarence Hofheins. “The concept of this pop-up is telling the family story and telling his story, and really embracing what we call a roots cuisine.”

Mr DeShields said the property’s new owners, Dovetail + Co seem passionate about keeping the Bermuda feel to the hotel.

“I think that is good,” he said.

“The new owners love Keith’s creativity and they really want to push him, and support a Bermudian executive chef,” said Alexis Roberts, head of sales and marketing at the hotel. “They have nothing but love for him.”

Dessert at DeShields’ Bistro (Photograph supplied)

Mr DeShields studied cooking at the Bermuda College under chef, Fred Ming Sr.

“I still have a lot of respect and love for Fred Ming Sr,” Mr DeShields said. “He taught a great deal to myself and my peers who are still in the trade.”

From there he studied at the renowned Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.

For 13 years he honed his skills working in Germany. The pinnacle of his experience was working as chef de cuisine at the 5-star Kempinski Grand Hotel Heiligendamm in Bad Doberan, Germany, where he worked alongside top chef Ronny Stewart.

“In 2010, I was on my way to France to take over a Michelin star kitchen, which I was really looking forward to,” Mr DeShields said.

But Cambridge Beaches general manager Richard Quinn asked him to come home to Bermuda and work for the hotel.

“He wanted me to mentor the young kids,” Mr DeShields said. “I couldn’t argue with that. That is why I chose to come home.”

Over the years he has worked with several interns from the Bermuda College culinary arts programme.

After his years abroad, Mr DeShields now speaks fluent German.

“It does come in handy at Cambridge Beaches,” he said. “We have different suppliers that are based there. Or we will have colleagues and coworkers who come from there, and it is just easier to speak to them in their language.”

At home, Mr DeShields is an avid gardener and grows a lot of the herbs and fruits he uses in his cooking.

“It is quite fun when you can go into your back yard and get an idea for what you are going to do for a menu item,” he said.

There are also Portuguese and English influences on the menu.

Ms Roberts said there will be no closures during the refurbishment process at the hotel. The first phase is under way now, upgrading the hotels 86 guest rooms and adding a new restaurant and public area.

The project will cost an estimated $5 million to $10 million. Cambridge Beaches last went through a major renovation in 2007 when they renovated the outdoor pool and added the restaurant called Shutters and built two private ocean view pool cottages.

The new owners have also changed the hotel’s no child policy, and now want to encourage family bonding.


Dinner at DeShields’ Bistro at Cambridge Beaches (Photograph supplied)

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Published December 16, 2021 at 10:33 am (Updated December 16, 2021 at 10:33 am)

Cambridge Beaches launches pop-up restaurant

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