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More than Basic Creole Cooking
The young chefs coming out of the Lycee d'Hotellerie et du Tourisme de Guadeloupe are taught how to refine local dishes and to value regional products such as indigenous spices, coffee, chocolate, and rum. Preparing typical holiday feasts and (East) Indian buffets (the island has a large Indian population) are all part of the curriculum. Hygiene and food security are stressed. Many graduates go to France to work under veteran chefs and then return to their island. Seasoned French chefs are in place, too, such as Frederic Marcelli, a French-Italian chef with experience in multistarred French and Belgian restaurants. As executive chef at Creole Beach Hotel & Spa, he says, "I hope to bring new techniques and organization, while keeping the creole cooking style and elevating it to a new level."
Jean Michel Moco, a Guadeloupe chef and graduate of the Lycee, started working in 1989, at age 17. Part of a kitchen team working at reviving forgotten, old-time recipes and enhancing them with New World techniques and presentations, he says, "I believe that the new creole movement will spread throughout the Antilles." Examples of some of the new recipes are smoked local fish with avocado mousse, mango tatin with cardamom, and luscious chutneys.
Anchoring the movement are "the ladies," the many female chefs who continue to serve the flavorful cuisine that is their heritage. If while exploring the island you see a restaurant named Chez plus usually a woman's name, chances are it serves creole food. Another clue is if it says "Creole Specialties and Grillades." In Gosier, at Poucet, on Route de la Riviera, the highway to St-François, is an unexpected culinary experience. Riviera Boucherie Restaurant is a butcher shop with a front display case of piglets with ears and eyes; tripe; splayed, heads-on turkeys; and even horsemeat. Lunch and dinner is served here, with grilled steak an educated choice, and on Saturday, curried goat.
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