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The caribbean chef: Adrian Cumberbatch

Thursday, July 25, 2013
Cumberbatch takes our simple local ingredients and creates five star dishes by adding the French, classical touch. PHOTO: KEARRA  GOPEE

At the recent Taste of the Caribbean competition in Miami, T&T’s chefs and bartenders picked up a host of gold medals and the Team Gold Medal. Today, the T&T Guardian features two chefs who were part of this team, experienced banquet chef Adrian Cumberbatch and up and coming pastry chef Jenelle Oliverrie. 


Adrian Cumberbatch is Barbadian born and raised, but Trinidad based and trained. He loves the Caribbean sea and this is why the 28-year-old chef, who just took on the position of head banquet chef at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain, wants to make Caribbean cuisine world renowned. 


In an interview at the Hyatt, Cumberbatch said he was looking forward to adding local ingredients to the Hyatt’s banquet menu. Trinidadian cuisine has been particularly inspiring to the award-winning chef. “I like to cook Caribbean cuisine particularly Trinbagonian cuisine where you have the different flavours of various ethnic groups coming together. My favourite food I like to cook is sea food and local fish like snapper or carite from the local waters,” he said. “I like to take the usual suspects and take the regional stuff and mix it with the classical French cooking.” 


Although Barbadian and Trinidadian food are similar because of their Caribbean histories, Cumberbatch finds more room to experiment in Trinidadian cuisine. “Bajan food has more of an English palette so it’s more subtle. 


Trinbagonian food is a more flavourful and delightful cuisine where you get all the different spices, whether its anchar masala or the different curries. And different cultures bring different techniques as well,” he said. 


Cumberbatch added that there is much to learn from domestic chefs. “I do a lot of exploring. I go to Toco and Grande Riviere, all over the countryside and look at the tanties in the village and see what they’re doing differently with local ingredients. Then I bring those ingredients back to the kitchen and work on it and add the French, classical touch to it.” 


Learning from women gives Cumberbatch no qualms. He admits that professional cooking is a male dominated industry, but says that his has been mentored and worked with numerous top female chefs including former Hilton executive chef Debra Sardinha-Metivier. He added that while growing he loved baking, but has never been teased for being a boy in the kitchen. “I actually used to get teased because I didn’t have enough to go around,” he said. 


In June, Cumberbatch was a member of T&T National Culinary Team that earned gold at the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Associations’s (CHTA) annual Taste of the Caribbean competition in Miami. Cumberbatch also won an individual silver medal at CHTA in the Beef Competition. 


These are just two awards of many Cumberbatch has received. Competitions are main driver for his continued passion for cooking. “I’m trying to make Caribbean cuisine number one. The same way you hear people speak highly about French cuisine or Mediterranean cuisine or the Scandinavian cuisine so we need to get the Caribbean up there and known around the world.” He added that winning affords a great deal of satisfaction. “There’s a great sense of achievement because a lot of hard work goes into what I do.” 



More about Cumberbatch: 

Adrian Cumberbatch won the T&T Chef of the Year in 2010 and 2011. He is a graduate of the T&T Hospitality & Tourism Institute and has also trained at throughout the US, Canada. In Barbados, Cumberbatch has won numerous awards at the National Independence Festival of the Creative Arts and the Barbados Culinary Awards. 


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