Great Food Reinvented
Cuisinart Golf Resort’s new executive chef, Jasper Schneider, takes time off revamping the menus at all the hotel’s restaurants to share his background, chefs he admire and his favourite dishes.
Where are you from?
Born in London, grew up in New York and then moved to Hawaii with my parents. I played ice hockey, which was kind of my way into college. I got into cooking when my dad and I went out to lunch at a small sandwich shop. He saw a “vacancy” sign and said, “Why don’t you go over and apply for the job?” Within 6 months, I fell in love with cooking.
How does the Caribbean compare to New York?
You love it [New York] because it’s such a metropolitan city. But here, it’s paradise. If your day is going wrong, just look out at the ocean, and remember, “I could be in New York—minus ten degrees and three feet of snow. No, thank you! I’d rather be in Anguilla.”
What inspired the new menu?
I think any chef coming in wants to throw a stamp on stuff. In each place, I want to say, “This is what we do in this restaurant.” Café Mediterraneo takes on a Mediterranean approach; you see a lot more salads and healthy food, because people are sitting down at the beach. At the Beach Shack, I created more of a Caribbean feel—a little jerk chicken, and a snapper done local-style, wrapped in tin foil.
I’ve always had a passion for Japanese food—it’s probably been in my career for 20 years. At Tokyo Bay, [We] created a more fun, hip style and a more casual experience.
We’ve just finished creating Italia’s menu: it’s a more New York Italian experience. You’d almost think it’s a neighbourhood restaurant where you come and eat a couple of nights a week
Did you keep anything?
No, it’s completely different. I do the hamburger different, the pizza’s different. When long-time customers come back, I say to the staff, “They’re going to want what they’re used to getting. But at the end of the day, let them try something new.” They’ll always fall in love with something.
Anything locally inspired?
Mainly fish—local snapper and the local tuna up in Tokyo Bay.
Most exciting new dish?
I love the mahi-mahi dish – one of my sous chefs showed me a new technique with the plantains—we do the mahi-mahi with a roasted plantain puree. We fuse lemongrass into the sauce and a little bit of red curry to add bite to the sweetness of plantains. It was like, wow, this is something unique. I love food. As you can see [pats his tummy], I didn’t get this big from sleeping.
So, you like seafood?
Seafood is my passion. I worked for Éric Ripert of Le Bernardin, the ‘god of seafood’, as they call him. He really showed me how to make simple dishes—instead of having 15 things in a dish, you do 3 things, and it’s genius. I’m not saying what I do is genius, but I use his philosophy: the fish is the star on the plate, everything around it should complement it.
What’s your favourite dish?
My wife will tell you it’s a simple steak on the grill at home; but at work I love cooking seafood. I love creating raw dishes and converting people who aren’t used to eating raw fish.
What’s your style?
I want people to feel like they’re eating healthy, but that there’s also a soul behind the food. I get the highest possible quality of everything, and I cook it real simple so it tastes great.
Which chefs do you admire?
Long list. There is Éric Ripert, my mentor from New York. He would take his time to talk about food, the importance of quality ingredients, and the importance of a team. When guests say they love my food, I say, “Thank you, but my staff is making me look good.” I’m not doing it all myself.
There’s Michel Bras from France. Thomas Keller of the French Laundry and Per Se in New York. The great Jean-Louis Palladin, who passed away many years ago, and Charlie Trotter from Chicago, who passed away recently.
Ingredient that no kitchen should be without?
Kitchen tool no chef should be without?
Cast iron pan. Last you a lifeline. That, and a good, sharp knife.
How’s your Anguilla experience been so far?
To be honest with you, this is my third Caribbean island, and the hospitality here is unbelievable. Everybody is friendly. I think my 17-month-old daughter is more of a celebrity than I am. I walked into Best Buy [supermarket] yesterday, and one of the staff was like, “Hi Adele!” I’m like, “Whoa, how do you know my daughter’s name?”
Do you get to eat out?
I try to go out once a week and see what’s around. The first three days I was here, I lived off roadside chicken. You can’t beat it! I also just tried B&Ds last Friday – we just picked up some ribs. My daughter…you can’t get them out of her hands, she loves the ribs. We just want to embrace the island and enjoy the culture and the flavours. I think that its super important to get a local experience.