Secrets from the Souce Shack – A Q&A with Chef Eric
When Executive Chef Eric Subin was looking for a culinary career move, he wanted more than a kitchen. He and his wife were looking for something off the beaten path, in a destination location, where they could also get to know the locals. After four vacations in Dominica, they decided they were here to stay, now bringing a highly personalized dining experience to Secret Bay guests.
The following interview with Chef Eric was crafted for a feature in the June/July/August issue of airline LIAT’s ZiNG Magazine.
How did you get interested in cooking – what are your earliest memories/influences?
I guess my interest in cooking grew from watching my mom. She taught me the basics; although now she insists she doesn’t know how to cook! I think that’s a ruse to get me to cook for her. My favourite memory of cooking as a child was when I would fake being sick so I could miss school and stay home and make huge omelets.
Where did you train and what were the most valuable things you learnt from that experience?
I trained at the Academy of Culinary Arts in New Jersey and was one of two students recommended by Chef Instructor to do our internship in the South of France. We worked at a restaurant called “’L’essentiel”. The biggest lesson I learnt is that food is a universal language. I wasn’t bilingual but through food I was able to connect to people from various cultures.
Can you tell us some places worked at up to the present?
I first started working in Philadelphia at a French/Moroccan restaurant called Tangerine. Then I worked as a Sous Chef at Latest Dish a restaurant located beneath the popular Fluid nightclub. Then I took over as chef and eventually co-owner. I worked at some other Philly restaurants before coming here to Dominica.
And how did you discover Dominica and Secret Bay?
My wife and I were looking for something off the beaten path where we do more interacting with the locals. We literally got a NatGeo Caribbean Travel book and we each chose our top picks and we had both chosen Dominica. We visited 4 times and then on the 5th trip decided that was it and we’ve been here ever since. When I heard Gregor was building Secret Bay, I knew I wanted to be part of the team. Now I am and my wife is raising our son and gardens and makes amazing gluten-free desserts!
What is the most valuable lesson learnt along the way?
Well, for me the biggest thing is the sharing of knowledge. I make an effort to share what I have learnt from experts or people who know more than me with the cooks here in Dominica; especially since there is no culinary school on island.
What is your signature dish?
Peanut satay breadfruit. One breadfruit season my wife and I were trying to decide what we could do other than roast it and fry it. A friend from Hawaii said their family sauté’s it with shallots and finishes it with fish sauce. It struck me that we could develop that into peanut satay.
PEANUT SATAY BREADFRUIT (serves 4)
1 half of a roasted breadfruit (peeled and diced into 1 inch pieces)
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp finely diced shallot
1 tbsp minced ginger
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp sambal oelek (chilli paste)
3 tbsp jaggery (unrefined brown sugar)
3/4 cup crushed peanuts
1/3 cup chopped cilantro or chadon beni
3/4 cup carrot chiffonade (carrot matchsticks)
1 tbsp lime juice
Fish sauce to taste
Heat oil in large skillet over high heat
Sauté breadfruit until golden brown. Add shallot, ginger, garlic and sambal oelek. Saute until fragrant.
Add jaggery and peanuts and stir in until combined
Add cilantro, carrot chiffonade, lime juice and fish sauce
*Pairs well with shrimp and Zinfandel
What’s upcoming from the Souce Shack?
Secret Bay guest love our food and we have been listening to their calls for some souvenir items. Look out for Secret Bay Jams, teas, pepper sauce and even rhum!