Executive Sous Chef Mark Smith

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Antigua & Barbuda Chef profile

Executive Sous Chef Mark SmithFormally of Curtain Bluff Resort now at Galley Bay Resort, Antigua

Antigua and Barbuda Chef of the Year 2013

With a wholehearted passion for teaching that equals his passion for the culinary arts, pastry chef Mark Smith is absolutely dedicated to the advancement of young chefs in Antigua & Barbuda. He says that since he started working in Antigua over 14 years ago his main goal has always been the same, “to teach young Antiguans as much about pastry and working in a busy kitchen as I can.” But Mark has reached far beyond his initial goal. He has influenced the lives of many Caribbean chefs, not just those from Antigua & Barbuda, by helping them to achieve their own professional goals and putting them on the path to success and a more fulfilling life. Among the local chefs that Mark has trained are Sonet Fenton, Olvanah Richardson-Burdette, Leroy Hodge (Executive Chef – Trade Winds Hotel), Marika Anthony (Executive Chef – The Tides Restaurant), Maureen Bowers (Caribbean Chef of the Year 2011 & Antigua Chef of the Year2012), Lana Williams (Young Chef of the Year 2012). His latest prodigy is Shana Murraine. He was also instrumental in bringing other Caribbean chefs to Antigua – these include Verman ‘Dezi’ Banhan (Antigua Chef of the Year 2011) and Desroy Spence. Mark explains, “I am so proud to see those chefs I have guided moving forward and progressing. I have watched their confidence build, and seen them getting promotions and winning scholarships and awards, and even learning to drive and buying homes.”

Last year Mark was inspired by the plight of culinary professionals and students displaced by the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti. He became involved with the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association Education Foundation, and through Louise John, the foundation’s trustee, he helped prepare the Team Haiti chefs for the prestigious Taste of the Caribbean culinary competition. Mark, assisted by Maureen Bowers, devised a pastry master class to train and prepare Haitian Pastry Chef Valery Abraham for the competition. Together they helped Valery to win the Pastry Chef Silver medal for Team Haiti at Taste of the Caribbean. The project continues and there are now 10 Haitian hospitality students studying for their diplomas at the Antigua & Barbuda Hospitality Training Institute.

Executive Pastry Chef Mark Smith 2A
This year Mark achieved one of his own personal aspirations and won the Antigua Hotel & Tourism Association – Antigua Chef of the Year 2013. “It feels good to be Antiguan Chef of the Year. I am very proud to have won; it’s an honour”, said Mark modestly. Next year he would like to go on to represent the Antigua team as their pastry chef at Taste of the Caribbean. “I want Antigua to win,” he proclaims. “The proudest moment in my career so far was when Maureen Bowers won Caribbean Pastry Chef of the Year. She won something I have yet to achieve.”

Mark has many qualities which make him a great all-round culinary professional. For seven years he has dedicated his creative skills to Curtain Bluff Resort, patiently training, motivating and sharing his talents with anyone who wants guiding and bonding his kitchen staff. “I wouldn’t have been so successful without the dedication of my long-term pastry team. June Harrigan and Anderson Charles are the ‘rocks’ of the pastry department. They have each worked over 25 years at Curtain Bluff.” “In fact,” Mark recalls, “I don’t think I have ever seen June look in a recipe book for anything I’ve ever asked him to make. Amazing! I have a lot of respect for the support of Rob Sherman (Curtain Bluff Managing Director) and Chelle Hulford (Curtain Bluff Founder). Working with Wendy Eardley (Resident Manager) and Christopher Eastmond (General Manager) is an amazing experience.”

Mark leads by example even outside the kitchen. On hearing that the local school at Old Road, to which many of the hotel staff send their children, needed a kitchen and dining area to allow the National School Meals programme to offer meals there, Mark and the hotel staff raised funds, involving the hotel and other contributors, to build a fully furnished kitchen and pupil dining area for the start of the new term. This is Mark Smith: inspired teacher, generous contributor to his community, and gifted chef.

Executive Pastry Chef Mark Smith 1

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