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Chef Debra Sardinha- Metivier

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Woman power takes on a whole different meaning for Chef Debra Sardinha- Metivier. A trail- blazer in her own right, this Caribbean culinary queen has made quite a name for herself in the field both locally and internationally.  She has had many firsts in her career— breaking barriers once known to be dominated by her male counterparts. From being the first female executive chef at the Hilton Trinidad, for the Caribbean and the Americas, a position she held for eight years, she also became the first female chef from the Caribbean to receive the Madeleine Kamman  Award from the International Association of Women Chefs and Restauranteurs in 1996.  This gave her the opportunity to make sharp, her skills under the competent watchful eye of Kamman herself, renowned French-American culinary artist. Another first for Sardinha- Metivier was her selection as the first female in to captain the T&T Culinary Team for the Caribbean Hotels Association "Taste of the Caribbean Competition."  This accomplishment came in 1997.  Under her captaincy, her team became the only group to have won gold and the team of the year title twice . It's no wonder on her return to the competition the organizers saw it fit to give her a seat on the panel of judges, another first to be bestowed upon her, being the only female to have ever been appointed at that time. After earning her Bachelor's Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management  at New York City (NYC) Technical College, she wasted no time acquiring a wide range of experience from working in the US along side celebrity chefs and restaurateurs like African-american chef and author Edna Lewis, Myriad Restaurant Group owner Drew Nieporent, Ladies Home Journal, Tribeca Grill and J. P. Morgan Bank and United Nations to name a few. Her resume boasts an impressive clientele and underscores her experience in the field. But perhaps, sitting at the top of Metivier's plethora of accomplishments is her most memorable experience—preparing a state dinner for Her Excellency Queen Elizabeth II at the President’s house a few years ago. Her love for cooking has taken her across the globe to places like Berlin, London, Switzerland, France and New York. And has driven her to establish her own private/chef consultant business called DSM (her name sake)  Creative Cuisine.

 Cooking from the heart

Pheeew! Now that I have got through this petite chef's long list of credentials, let's talk about her involvement in CNC3's exciting new cooking series—TASTE. I need not explain why she was selected. Metivier will  bring to viewers in her episode a total local theme. She focuses on a Caribbean spiced rub that was used to grill a breast of chicken and this was served with a Caribbean inspired salsa to emphasize a healthy but also tasty approach to cooking. The culinary artist said from a very early age going to the central market with her father on a Saturday morning started her"love affair" with the sights, sounds and smells of food. "I can still remember a woman by the name of Ms. Mary that made the best mud oven loaf bread, hops and mini sweet bread that looked more like mini rolls but you could see the speckle of the freshly grated coconut and it was brushed on top with a sweet glaze- delish!!!!" she reminisced. Also coming from a family background where both sides of her family tree enjoyed the kitchen, might also be one of the culprits involved in her love for the skill. She recalls her grandmother Dolores Sardinha had been nick-named "Sweet finger Mama" by her father because of her cooking. "I learnt about vibration cooking from my father and from my mom, the importance of respecting and documenting recipes," said Sardinha- Metivier. Her first attempt at cooking was making a cake for her mother's birthday party. "I was not allowed to cook until whatever age my mother would deem suitable for me to, but I decided that I wanted to surprise  her with a cake for her birthday anyway," Sardinha- Metivier.  She revealed the cake turned out to be more like a bake, but she was so proud of her efforts nonetheless. Was mommy pleased? Sardinha-Metivier did get into a bit of trouble for being disobedient but that day, strangley she was also rewarded. "Although they were upset with me for disobeying their orders, they somehow clearly understood that I wanted to cook and from that point on I was permitted to assist in the kitchen."