Johnson and Wales University
Gout et Saveurs Lakay-Haiti Food & Spirits Festival
Haitian Culinary Alliance USA
Haiti Chefs for Education
Our latest installment of Yes Chef! features The “Haitian Chef”, Chef Stephan Berrouet-Durand. Chef Stephan’s dedication to his country is demonstrated through the annual Gout et Saveurs Lakay- Haiti Food and Spirit Festival. For the last five years he’s gathered the best chefs from around the Caribbean and the world to Haiti to celebrate Haiti’s culinary culture.
EAT The Caribbean: When did you realize that you wanted to be a chef?
Becoming a chef, really happened by accident. This was never in my plans as I never thought for a second that I could actually make a career of it. All through college, I was cooking for friends and family, I even started a small catering business out of High School. I ended up on the steps of Johnson & Wales University and took the leap.
ETC: How do you describe your style of cooking?
My style of cooking is very homey. I love to take comfort food, home style cooking and bring my own spin into it. My culinary specialty is fusing Latin/Caribbean food.
ETC: What other chefs, Caribbean or otherwise, have influenced you most and how?
I don’t have a chef in particular who has influenced me, however I admire many chefs and I take inspiration from everyone. Chefs are an extraordinary breed of people, passionate human beings who share a piece of their soul in every dish they create. So I certainly admire all chefs who are doing something different.
I will say however, that chefs like Allen Saucer, Bobby Flay, Rick Bayless, Jose Andres are some chefs that I admire for taking what was once considered home cuisine and taking it to the level they have.
ETC: Can you describe the culinary scene in Haiti? Where do you see it going?
The Culinary Scene in Haiti is still young and underdeveloped. Even though there have been some notable restaurants in the past, and there are quite a few new restaurants that are making their mark, we still have a long way to go. I think however that the scene is moving in the right direction. Since the creation of the Haiti Food & Spirits Festival which I initiated 5 years ago, I see things today that I did not see before. More Chefs are coming to Haiti, people want to see variety and great food all around.
Its important to me that Haiti be seen in a different light, what better way to do this than through food.
ETC: Tell us more about why you created“Gout et Saveurs Lakay” – Haiti Food & Spirits Festival.
I created this event for a few reasons which I think makes perfect sense now that I am actually talking about it..
- I think for any country’s food to become popular, it needs chefs to take it from the home to the restaurant and ultimately to the world.
- I wanted a platform which would give talented Haitian Chefs an opportunity to do just that.
- It’s important to me that Haiti be seen in a different light, what better way to do this than through food.
- Every country has on one scale or the other a festival that showcases their home. I thought a food festival which showcases our great culture, our varied influences would be a perfect platform.
ETC: Do you cook at home, and if so, what is your favourite dish to prepare?
Yes, I do cook at home, but nothing special. I am a pasta kind of guy. I love to cook things that give me comfort.
What is the most under-appreciated or overlooked ingredient that you are a fan of?
I like products that are versatile. Products that you can do a variety of dishes with. The plantain is one of them.
ETC: What is next for Chef Stephan Berrouet-Durand?
That is an excellent question. Honestly I am not sure. I know what I want to continue doing, and that is to be able to participate in various activities outside of Haiti to promote Haiti’s Gastronomie like my foundation, Haiti Chefs for Education, and to continue expanding my culinary horizons. I want the chance to work with other Chefs, travel and discover as much as possible in the culinary world.