Mmm Mmm! Chef Vincent Binet- Chef to the Pirates of the Caribbean (Copyright ©2007)

IslandWhere, March 2007

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Most travelers view eating out as a quicker way of connecting with the culture of the places they visit, than learning the vernacular. For visitors to the Nature Island of Dominica, ‘La Maison’ Restaurant is a gem of a find, providing just that.

The island’s newest, stylish, contemporary restaurant combines French and local cuisine to give diners an authentic and exceptional experience. La Maison is idyllically located alongside a narrow cobblestone pathway, occupying a cleverly restored colonial building in the old French quarters of the town, Roseau. Its intimate size, with a seating capacity for approximately 25 diners, this French restaurant provides the perfect ambiance for functions of all kinds- friendly social gatherings, or romantic dinners, al fresco or indoors.

The gastronome responsible for its delectable delights is Chef Vincent Binet, who hails from Toulouse, South of France. If you met with Vincent for the first time, you will immediately notice his easy going personality. Calm, relaxed and remarkably focused, he however has the unmistakable aura of an artist- a culinary artist, to be exact.

It all began, ten years ago in France, when Vincent had a chance encounter with “some interesting people” which was to change his life forever. He learnt of their lifelong love affairs with food, and was so inspired he decided to try it out himself. His formal training in Hotel Management and Marketing was garnered during a seven year stint in Holland. With the right combination of talent, ambition, and a great passion for food, Vincent took up the challenge of learning the refined art of cooking; the first step to become a professional master chef.

There, he was able to enhance his expertise in classic French cooking, fulfilling his ultimate dream of catering to the needs of sophisticated palettes. But how does a young chef from the Midi-Pyrénées region find his way to this little island of Dominica?

Charmed with the reputation of his French birthplace and culinary talents, Vincent was afforded a once in a lifetime opportunity, when two years ago, during the filming of Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3 on location in Dominica, the owners of a 17th century style luxury hotel invited Vincent to Dominica to cater for the cast of the Disney sequel for two and a half months. Not one to temper adventure with prudence, and like any chef in his right mind, Vincent accepted the invite and has not regretted since. Not many young chefs can claim a CV which includes cooking for A-list celebrities like Johnny Depp, Keira Knightly, and Geoffrey Rush. “It was an interesting experience, which I enjoyed very much,” Vincent admits, with a melodic French accent.

As if he lives by the saying, ‘bloom where you are planted’, Vincent valiantly took on the challenges of being one of the most sought after chefs on the island.

Today, he brings a seasoned eye for creativity and a passion for French specialities with a Dominican twist to his post as Executive Chef of La Maison restaurant. When asked his secret for his palatable gourmet dishes, our young chef humbly confided that the most important factor is “the freshness of the ingredients”. He takes pride in seeking the freshest ingredients such as produce from local farmers, and fish from the surrounding sea and uses special techniques to bring out the natural flavours of the seasonal ingredients available, to enhance the restaurant's signature Mediterranean-influenced dishes.

Chef Vincent shares some of his favourite gourmet recipes with Island Where magazine.

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