Celebrity chefs coming to The Loren
This summer brings the second season of The Loren at Pink Beach’s Summer Guest Chef Series, being launched this weekend and bringing some top American chefs to the island.
“Last summer, we had between 1,500 and 2,000 people attend our guest chef events,” Sebastien Maingourd, general manager of The Loren, said. “We are expecting the same numbers this year. Last year, it was extremely successful.”
This year, the programme has been expanded from a single special dinner with each chef, to a weekend of activities including cooking demonstrations, fishing excursions, dinners and brunches.
The guest chef series was created last year to draw locals in during the doldrums of the pandemic.
“This year there will be a lot more visitors to the island attending,” a spokesman for the hotel said.
The series begins on Saturday with a visit from chef JJ Johnson, a rising star on the New York culinary circuit.
Mr Johnson runs FieldTrip, an award winning Harlem rice bowl restaurant, stars in his own television show Just Eats with Chef JJ on Cleo TV, and won the James Beard Best Cook Book award for Between Harlem and Heaven published in 2018.
He has been called “one of the few young chefs in America with the ability to look forward”.
“I have never been to Bermuda,” Mr Johnson told The Royal Gazette, “but I have a friend there, André Roberts. André and I went to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York together.”
It was Mr Roberts, food and beverage director at The Loren, who invited Mr Johnson to take part in the series.
“I am really excited to be a part of it,” Mr Johnson said. “It will be a great event.”
On Saturday, Mr Johnson will be doing a cooking demonstration at The Loren at 12pm and a four-course dinner in the hotel’s Maree Lounge at 7pm. On Sunday there will be a brunch at 11am.
"I will be making a peri peri rigatoni for my demo,“ Mr Johnson said. “It will have a West African tomato based sauce. It will be familiar but with my twist on it.”
The meal will also include purple sweet potato pie with coconut ice cream, fried snapper with clams and mussels and a curry, among other things. There will also be vegan options.
“I will be bringing a lot of my own flair,” he said. “It will be fun and it will be casual. Brunch will have a soulful flair with fried chicken and a bunch of other cool stuff. It will be delicious.”
Mr Johnson started cooking at four years old with his Puerto Rican grandmother. He would climb up onto a stool to help her peel carrots.
“She played really loud salsa music,” he said. “I did not really watch cartoons early on. Cooking was this fun part of my life. Then, at the age of eight, I saw a commercial for the Culinary Institute of America. I told my parents I was going there to school.”
He did just that. Over time he worked his way up the culinary ladder, starting as a dish washer, then cooking at places such as the Tribeca Grill, the Morgan Stanley Executive Dining Room, The Cecil and Minton’s.
“Then I went off to spread my own wings,” he said.
He opened FieldTrip in Harlem in 2019, billing it as a community-based dining experience that celebrates culture through the shared experience of rice.
“Now, I am fortunate for people to call me to cook at hotels around the country or the world, or they ask me to do pop-ups,” he said. “And my TV show Just Eats is going into its fourth season. On that show I invite guests on, and we talk about anything related to cooking, food or wine. We have a really good time.”
While on the island, Mr Johnson hopes to experience Bermuda’s cuisine and sample ginger beer.
The next chef to visit The Loren will be New Orleans chef, Nina Compton, who was on Season 11 of the television show Top Chef. She will host the series between June 3 and 5.
Other chefs will include Brad McDonald, Maneet Chahuan, Dan Kluger, Eric Adejepong, Tiffany Derry and Dayanny De La Cruz. The series ends on August 28.
Chef’s experiences are $150, chef’s dinners are $235 and brunch is $70 per person.
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