This Q&A first published in the Spring 2015 print edition.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I grew up on the northern side of Haiti, the beautiful town of Cap-Haitien.
Q: When did you know you wanted to be a chef?
A: “When my father opened his first restaurant in 1982. I was always around the kitchen, asking questions, tasting. I was happy to smell the fine herbs and was amazed with the combination of spices that would give the final touch to a dish. When I was 9 I opened a friends’ club: every Friday on top on my father’s restaurant we would gather there and I would make a cream based sandwich with my grandmother’s cookie recipes.”
Q: What is your favorite food memory?
A: I didn’t like milk as a child, and that is why my grandma put vanilla in it to trick me into drinking it.
Q: Where were you trained and how difficult was your training?
A: I started in the kitchen at a very early age, almost 6. My first major was in Tourism, and I’m also a special event specialist, a certified trainer for hospitality and business. But after a disastrous adventure with a caterer I decided to enter the field and study catering and gourmet cooking. Since then I never stopped learning from and assisting with every seminar on new techniques and new trends. Q: How do you get your inspiration? A: My favorite quote is to “keep cooking with love. “ Love from my family, friends and clients inspires me, because I am passionate about what I do.
Q: Favorite kitchen gadget or equipment?
A: My custom-made wooden spoon, you can do everything with it.
Q: The best piece of advice you would give a home enthusiast?
A: To never stop trying and learning
Q: Best cooking tip for a novice getting into the business?
A: The best dishes are made from fresh and good quality ingredients.
Q: Funniest kitchen incidents?
A: My first attempt at a dummy wedding cake was so slanted my mom called it Tour de Pise.
Q: Who in the food world do you most admire?
A: Rachel Ray.
Q: What do you think is the most challenging ingredient to work with?
A: Aloe vera.
Q: Do you have a favorite wine?
A: A South African wine: “Fleur du Cap“.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years , in 10?
A: In 5 years I see myself more and more on the international scene promoting new Haitian gastronomy; in 10 years I want to sell a franchise for my chain restaurants.
Q: What do you do for fun?
A: I read a lot and it feels like heaven when I do it near the ocean.
Q: What do you love most about your career as a Chef?
A: My customer satisfaction, seeing the expression of their faces when they take the first bite of my dishes.
Q: What’s your last supper meal?
A: A bottle of champagne with toast of foie gras
Q: How can people book you?
A: Via our restaurant , KokiyaJ Bar/Grill in Cap-Haitien. My Facebook page www.facebook.com/chef.tacha and through my website www.minidelices.com,
On twitter, Facebook and Instagram @chefnatachagomez
Q: Where can people find you?
A: In Haiti, especially in Cap-Haitien
Q: What do you have going on?
A: I am currently working on designing new Caribbean-inspired chefs’ whites.