What happens when a person of two different Caribbean ethnicities decides to become a chef? “A big aromatic bubbling pot of flavours of course”! So said by Darriel Ambrose a young chef of Vincentian and Trinidadian parentage.
There were quite a few occupations that had peaked Darriel’s interest before becoming interested and dedicated to the culinary arts; an obstetrician, a psychologist, a pilot and a French teacher. However, after seeking spiritual guidance through fast and prayer, a practice she says has never failed her to date, the question arrived: “What would genuinely make me happy in the next 5- 10 years?” Without hesitation Darriel knew hier calling was to become a chef.
“I realised besides the fact that I love my belly, I would always have a fascination to create and experiment with food. That my interest for science would still have purpose when I create molecularly gastronomised dish (in short layman’s terms – creating foams, changing the structure of food and making liquid spheres).
Not only choosing a career that would provide for me financially, I knew that my heart would be in it and that all the gifts I was blessed with would uniquely be utilised along the way with the title. Now it’s my life, my passion and obsession!”
It was while at Polytechnical Institute, Darriel decided to further her studies in the culinary arts and got accepted into the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Miami Florida. Today Darriel is part of a team of chefs who assiduously work to meet the demands and expectations of hungry patrons at a popular restaurant on Trinidad’s western peninsula.
Darriel credits her mother for fostering her love for food and flavours and she would often use fresh herbs and spices from their kitchen garden back home in St. Vincent.
Darriel is striving to one day become an iconic chef creating Vincentian fine dining fusion cuisine and revolutionizing the way food is created and made in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
She says “We have simple food that can taste amazing! Some of the most amazing dishes can thrive off of the simplicity and execution of preparation. The soil in St. Vincent is rich in minerals so imagine the ingredients that chefs start off with. There has always been the possibility to make something extraordinary. I would just love to be the one to take up that challenge and make my country proud.”
I asked Chef Ambrose to describe his favourite dish and my mouth began salivating. He said “It’s actually a Trini chow sitting on grilled lion fish that was marinated with local herbs and shallots on a bed of red beans and rice ital. To be honest I have no restrictions to recipes. It has to be what I feel like doing at that moment. What I can say is that I love fusion cuisine and grilling meats.”
Darriel also boasts of a signature dessert she recently created using St. Vincent’s locally produced dark and milk chocolate bars as her muse.
“I call It ‘Vincy Chocolât Bacchanal’. It’s composed of a scrumptious soufflé, a decadent Bailey’s infused Dark Chocolate mousse and a milk chocolate cheesecake ice cream among other delicious elements.”
I asked Chef Ambrose to give one piece of advice to someone now starting out in their career or in the culinary arts. She had this to say “Make sure deep down within yourself that this is what you want to do! Also find your niche, whether you would like to be a Chef on the hot pass, a private Chef, a pastry Chef, a banquet Chef, the possibilities are quite vast but your final decision is what matters most.”
She also advises to pursue degree certification as it complements experience and can open up bigger opportunities especially in the culinary arts field.
“You will get cuts, burns and bruises but if you don’t have a passion for it then you wouldn’t understand why you wake up the next day willing and ready to take on the next challenge in a hot restless kitchen where you spend most of your daily hours at. Create, inspire and have fun!”
Chef Darriel Ambrose can be followed on Instagram as Darriel Ambrose and on Facebook as Chef Ambrose.
Written by: Yinka Jagbir