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In the Hotseat -Adrian Martin!

USEMeet 23-year old Adrian Martin! This young chef won second place in the division for charter yachts smaller than 100 feet at the Antigua Charter Boat Show in December of last year. Adrian entered the prestigious chef competition last minute and with only US $35 worth of local provisions and fewer than 24 hours to prepare for judging, he was named one of the finest chefs in the entire luxury yacht charter industry. Out 'n About met up with Adrian, who calls St. Maarten home, to find out a little more about this magic feat and Adrian's super chef skills.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in Houston, Texas. My dad is from Louisiana and my mom is French, but I was raised on St. Maarten mostly, and I feel more like a St. Martiner than an American. I moved from Houston to Fort Lauderdale and then to St. Maarten when I was five years old. My dad opened up Texas Pit BBQ on Airport Road at the time, but Hurricane Luis destroyed the building and our boat. My dad then opened up Texas Pit BBQ in Cole Bay.

What schools did you attend?

I went to Montessori Primary and then to Lauriers, a private primary school on the French side. I did my fifth grade at the Medical School and then went back to the French side. I moved to Lyon in France when I was 11 and then came back to live on the island with my dad at Texas Pit when I was 13. I moved to Texas when I was 15 and to Paris when I was 16. I lived in Amsterdam for a while too after I finished my education in Paris and then moved back to St. Maarten and worked at Le Tastevin in Grand Case and as a chef on private yachts.

What did you study?

I studied to be a chef. My first two years were at the Superior School of French Cooking in Paris called Ferandi. At that time, I was an apprentice at national French TV channel TF1, cooking food for TV stars. That is where I met Chef Pascale Jolaine who really instilled in me a passion for cooking. I made lunches for France's greatest chefs and met the chef of Four Seasons George V where I interned for another two years while I studied at Mederick Culinary School. I graduated with honours.

Did you then go back to the island?

No, I worked at a restaurant in Amsterdam for a while and then did a season at Le Tastevin in Grand Case. I was a chef on a private yacht that travelled from Seattle to Canada, after which I moved to Spain, Catalonia, and worked as a pastry chef for a 3-star hotel and restaurant for the season. I then went back to Le Tastevin and started getting offers on yachts. I had a gig on Mirabella V in the British Virgin Islands and then set off to Greece, and at the beginning of December, I was a chef on Lady Alliaura and did the boat show in Antigua.

Tell us about the competition you won.

I was working as a chef on the sailing catamaran Lady Alliaura at the beginning of December and I was supposed to fly back to St. Maarten that evening, as I had some personal obligations to attend to, but LIAT was on strike. So at 5:00pm that evening, the broker said to me, "Well, if you are stuck, why not enter the competition tomorrow?" I thought, "Yes sure!" But I had no food and not much left on the boat either, so I ventured out to the Yacht Club grocery store and bought $35 of local provisions. Then I went to party all night (laughs) and the next morning, I rocked it!

What did you make?

I had about six hours to prepare the food. As a starter, I made a snapper and tuna ceviche, a snow pea julienne and snapper fritters (accras) with Creole sauce, and a black bean cappuccino with coconut and lemongrass mousse. As a main course, I served slowly roasted coconut jerk pork loin with sweet potato and butternut squash mash, seared mango, confit kumquat and local sweet pepper chutney. As a dessert, I made ugly fruit and mango pannacotta with wild hibiscus coulis and glazed wild hibiscus, crunchy caramelized banana and rhubarb filo.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I would love to have a little restaurant when I'm 35 or so; a tiny little restaurant with about 20 seats – no more; a place with very good vibrations and no menu, a very personal place where I can talk to the guests. I envision a big garden and lots of fresh produce and I'd even like to design my own plates.

If you could invite any three people to dinner, dead or alive, who would they be and what would you serve them?

I would wake up Bob Marley and make him a herb incrusted space soufflé so he would fly back up to Zion peacefully; then I would wake Genghis Khan, the Mongol warlord, and make him a juicy horse tartare to ease his lust for blood; and finally, the stunning Egyptian pharaoh Cleopatra; I would make her a hydromel infused foie gras to see if it is as good as what her expert chefs made.