Andrew Gaskin is executive chef at the Belmond Cap Juluca, which is opening on the island of Anguilla in November. He tells Janet Harmer why he is enjoying his first stint in the Caribbean after a career travelling the world
What was your first role overseas?
It was as a sous chef on Comino, an island off Malta. I had a strong desire to experience the world, so I asked my chef in London for a transfer. Within two weeks – even though he said he didn’t want to see me go – I was working with Swiss International Hotels & Resorts on a remote island where the only building was the hotel. It was an extreme but brilliant change of scene.
Tell us about the style and setting of the Belmond Cap Juluca
The resort is a chic island hideaway where guests will come to disconnect and enjoy the laidback luxury of Anguilla. The food and service has to reflect that expectation of barefoot luxury. Our culinary offering will be unique on the island for its quality and diversity. I am committed to creating menus that are an extension of Anguilla’s healthy lifestyle and many are vegan-friendly.
What does your job entail?
Right now I am busy planning, researching and developing our culinary concepts, sourcing suppliers and local ingredients and drafting menus. I am overseeing the Pimms restaurant, an elegant beachfront dining venue where I get to express my arty flair and use local produce; CIP’s by Cipriani, Belmond’s legacy Italian restaurant; Maundays Lounge, a stunning Peruvian tapas bar; and a beach seafood barbecue and bar, the Cap Shack.
How many chefs will be in your brigade and are you recruiting from the UK?
There will be 46 members in the team. We are harnessing local talent – it’s important we maintain a local community of staff for the island. A few key players will come from the UK to help with training and development of different cuisines.
What is the major challenge that lies ahead with respect to the opening of the hotel?
Planning ahead and factoring in the logistics of being on a small island in the Caribbean – everything takes time to reach us. We have to think ahead in order to be ready for the opening. The pressure is on to make a great first impression on the island with our culinary offering.
What have been your first impressions of living and working in the Caribbean, good and bad?
So far, it’s been amazing. One standout is that the local community and staff are so friendly and helpful, so settling in has been an easy journey. The staff have an easy charm and smile that I know our guests old and new will love. At the moment my job is planning. I’m an expressive chef and I just can’t wait to get in my kitchen when the resort opens.
You have worked in many countries overseas, which have you enjoyed the most and why?
I have taken something special away from every location, with each place leaving an impression on me. I am blessed as I have friends all over the world. But, if pushed, I would have to say Porto Cervo, Costa Smeralda, on the Italian island of Sardinia – it truly is a brilliant location to work as a chef, with VIPs and celebrities. It was a joy to be in a position where I could create food to my heart’s desire without worrying too much about the overheads!
And which ones have been the most challenging?
Probably Bora Bora, with it being so remote. The basic things you take for granted can be a real challenge to source.
How has working abroad enhanced your career?
It has been an unforgettable journey and it’s definitely opened my eyes to the world. Overall, it has made me a stronger and more rounded chef.
How easy is it for your family to move around with you?
My wife travels with me, so she is forever having to resettle somewhere new, which isn’t easy. However, my two sons are now shaping their own lives and careers. My eldest, Daniel, works in the financial world, and my youngest, Adam, is in the hotel business back in Malta.
What do you miss about the UK?
The British sense of humour, my friends and family, and seeing my favourite team, Arsenal – I am a devoted Gooner.
May 2018-present Executive chef, Belmond Cap Juluca, Anguilla
2015-2018 Cluster executive chef, Maistra, Croatia
2013-2014 Executive chef, Le Méridien Bora Bora, French Polynesia
2012-2013 Pre-opening executive chef, Le Méridien Zhengzhou, China
2011-2012 Executive chef, Verdura Resort (Rocco Forte Hotels), Sicily, Italy
2009-2011 Task force executive chef, St Regis Tianjin, China, and St Regis Bangkok, Thailand
2008-2009 Executive chef, Hotel Pitrizza, Porto Cervo, Sardinia, Italy
2006-2009 Pre-opening executive chef, Le Méridien St Julians Hotel & Spa, Malta
1995-2005 Executive chef, Le Méridien Phoenicia, Malta