Guests staying at Jade Mountain or Anse Chastanet resorts can book an excursion to visit Emerald Farm to see the operation as well as meet the people that are growing the food that you eat while you are there. One of the first people that we met was Pawan Srivastava. Pawan has multiple degrees including a Ph.D. in post-harvest from Ohio State University. His extensive experience brought him to a position in St. Lucia overseeing the growth and operation of Emerald Farm. We were next given a tour by a brother and sister that grew up in St. Lucia and work on the farm. Their whole lives have been spent working on the land and their knowledge of the many varieties of plants and flowers as well as the growing strategies was illuminating.
The highlight of our visit to Emerald Farm was a cooking demonstration by Elijah Jules, the head chef at Jade Mountain. He is a native of St. Lucia and came into his culinary career in a non-traditional way. As a young man he was not clear about what he wanted to do with his life and cooking was certainly not on his mind when at the age of 16, he got a job washing dishes at a local restaurant. The chef that ran the restaurant enlisted Elijah to help with food prep, and taught him to prepare meals that he didn't want to make himself. Over time Elijah learned the skills and understanding of food that let him move up through the ranks and take over as the head chef of that restaurant. At the age of 28 he became the Executive Sous Chef at Jade mountain. Jules is the captain of St. Lucia's culinary team and has won many awards including Chef of the Year and 2012 gold medalist at the Taste of the Caribbean Culinary Competition held in Miami, FL. Jules also spends time giving back to the community by working with students at the local secondary school, teaching them to cook and mentoring them as they grow into their careers.
During our demonstration Jules prepared a spectacular ceviche, grilled mahi and a shrimp salad, all with locally grown produce and fish that was caught the day before not far from the farm. He also spent a little extra time with Spencer, a 13 year old guest visiting from Canada. Spencer is interested in a culinary career and he received a knife skills lesson during our time with Jules.