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Culinary Employment Iles Des Saintes

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Good day all, I am a American chef in my early 30's that is dead-set on relocating to the Caribbean at the end of this year. Currently I am doing my research on islands that I wish to relocate to, however I was hoping to get some input from individuals who have had experience relocating to this area of the world. One group of islands that have enchanted me are the Iles des Saintes. As I am researching them, I am running into to some dead ends in regards to the availability of culinary jobs and also housing. I am not sure if this is due to a lack of posting of such information or that this information is not readily available over the web. If anyone would be so helpful as to direct me to several avenues that would have employment opportunities and housing accommodations that are not for temporary vacation stays, it would be greatly appreciated. I thank you all in advanced and am excited to see what information you will be able to provide a wanderlusting chef.

Sincerely,

Vic

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    First, this is a travel forum, not a hiring forum so most responders won't have the foggiest notion about job availability for a chef. There are a few of us regular contributors who live in the caribbean who can give you some general advice but the vast majority of us are not restauranteurs or "hiring managers".

    That said, most Caribbean employers DO NOT advertise job openings over the internet. You pretty much have to be "on island" to be considered for any position. You'll find this attitude throughout the Caribbean.

    Also, as eastendeusvi points out, to work on most Caribbean islands you have to first obtain a work permit (often difficult to get).

    Iles des Saintes is a Department of France so you'd be subject to the same Labor Laws as you would if you wanted to work in France. Best to contact the French Consulate to find out what the requirements for getting a Work Permit are.

    Iles des Saints is a very small archipelago - only 5 sq. miles in total area with a population of under 3,400 people. There are only about 25 restaurants on the islands, many family owned and operated so I suspect chef's jobs are very limited.

    You are fighting an uphill battle that is very difficult but not impossible if you are willing to seek employment on other Caribbean Islands.

    Start your research here: www.jobinthesun.com

    Also, check out the classifieds in "chef" trade magazines, you might find leads there.

    FYI - there's a Catch 22 to living and working in the Caribbean - Living expenses are probably going to be higher than where you now live while wages for comparable positions will be significantly lower.

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    My first piece of advice to you is to go visit Les Saints.
    I have been there twice and I loved it. It is Idyllic and pastoral and beautiful and a wonderful place for a vacation. But to work and live there (or anywhere in the Caribbean) is another consideration. (I am Cordon Bleu Paris trained but am not a restaurant chef but a teaching chef, and I own property on other islands where I've stayed for periods of several weeks at a time.)

    Firstly, there's not a lot happening there. Really not much at all. No big hotels or chains looking for chefs, just small one-offs who often employ locals or French nationals in their very small kitchens. I know professional chefs who live on small islands (like St. Martin and St Barts) that are far bigger and busier and have big reputations for their gourmand and culinary traditions than any of Les Saints and Marie Galant and even they get extreme cases of cabin fever after a short while living there.
    You'd be better off trying the larger islands like Martinique, or of course, the mother island Guadeloupe for employment opportunities though even there they will be limited.

    Secondly, I'm assuming you have a full working knowledge French as this will be your language of communication with everyone in that region. A little English is spoken but only on a 'need-to' basis and even then only in the hotels, if at all. Otherwise, it is French or the local patois everywhere and all the time. With the locals and the visitors, who are almost all from other French speaking parts of the Caribbean and the world.

    Be prepared for unusual conditions of all kinds, the big ones being: weather (especially during hurricane season), standard of living (high vs. low pay), style of life (very laid back, expect to take hours for anything to get done, which is wonderful to unwind on vacation but frustrating when you're living there), and attitudes and expectations that are different from what you are used to. This may not be a problem for you as you are young and are filled with wanderlust as you say and have the possibility to adapt, but just be prepared.

    What others have said above about permits and visas is true. You will need to make enquiries and arrangements and have your working papers in hand BEFORE you leave. And from what I know on other French Caribbean islands, it can be frustratingly slow and bureaucratic. But, sometimes all the effort and frustration can be worth it in the end.

    Once again, I reiterate a visit there first, to investigate and have a look.
    It is more motivating to do it knowing that you only have a week or 10 days before you have to leave.
    For all you know, it could turn out to be exactly what you want and you'll have discovered a gem that will be all your own to explore and develop thanks to your sense of adventure. Trust me, I've discovered many such rewarding opportunities exactly by going to see for myself, which I'd never have know if not by self discovery.

    Best of luck to you.

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