Hermosa Cove Villa Hotel offers all the necessary services for a truly luxurious experience, from the moment they arrange pick up … to arranging special outings with trusted contacts in Jamaica. The private villas are outstanding in the sense that they have everything you need, from fully equipped kitchens and homey interior décor in the large living rooms, flat screen TVs and lovely spacious outdoor terraces for breakfast beside your own pool or in a sweet little dining nook among the flowers. Owners Deb and Clayton (Korver) have traveled the world, collecting beautiful art and treasures; making for a warm, eclectic and interesting décor experience for villa guests. There are no cookie-cutter villas here. Each is unique. All villas, even a “tree-house” are designed to blend with the towering trees and delicate flowers alike, combining the comfort of the luxury hotel experience with full access to the gorgeous environment surrounding it. Service and staff are exemplary. If you want anything, or desire something special, all you have to do is ask.
Being such a small and intimate property, Hermosa Cove has only one restaurant, but it is a good one! Of note, you can also choose to eat at the Broken Rudder Bar overlooking the white sandy beach near the pools. The restaurant, “Christopher’s,” is named after Christopher Columbus of course and is beautifully situated overlooking the small sandy cove and booked-ended by two piers, each of which boasts a pretty thatched palapa. Part of what makes Christopher’s so special is the Executive Chef Conroy Arnold. With a gentle nature, Chef Conroy is a constant presence in the kitchen and on the grounds, collecting herbs and spices from his personal on-site garden, visiting with patrons to see how they are enjoying their meals.
With his intent gaze and shy smile, Chef Conroy revealed himself to me as a man with a hunger for knowledge and a thirst to discover the culinary roots of his beloved Jamaica, parish by parish, recipe by recipe. I fully expect that he is going to quench these longings soon.
Let’s hear about all this from Chef himself!
Deborah: A while back I read an article about you where you talked about how you got your interest in cooking through your grandmother and mother. Let’s begin with where you grew up and got your inspiration for cooking.
Chef Arnold: I grew up in Trelawny, Jamaica, in a little town called Wait-a-Bit, up in the hills.
Deborah: I love that name! So, what are your earliest memories with your grandmother? Was there something she prepared that really inspired you?
Chef Arnold: She would usually do a lot of baking. Also, she would make this amazing pudding. She would be sitting on a stool in the backyard, stirring away at a pot. She’d let me put my finger in it to have a taste. So that was my first impression.
Deborah: I think being a Chef is a “calling”, as are a handful of other professions. I think it’s something you probably find a passion for, usually as a child. Do you make any dishes currently that are nostalgic – something that you grew up with?
Chef Arnold: No, I’ve really moved on and tried to embrace my own philosophy – what I have learned along the way, and what I like to do. I like braising meats, for instance, but I didn’t know or understand that kind of technique back then. Now I do and I embrace it. Right now I think, for me, the idea of being a Chef is the importance of being a real “hands-on” cook. I want to make my dishes with passion, I want to have fresh ingredients and just “make it happen”. That’s how I see myself. I just like to cook and my goal is to become a “Curator” of my culinary culture.
Deborah: I understand you like to do a lot of smoking of meats.
Chef Arnold: Yeah, bacon – we make our own bacon. I think it’s because the owners here at Hermosa Cove are originally from Iowa and they smoke a lot of meats. These days you have to have a well-rounded menu, and I think more and more we push toward an “artisan style” approach to our menu – so our own bacon, our own ribs, our own sauces. When you practice this and try to embrace that philosophy it makes for an interesting menu.
Deborah: So what inspires you as a Chef?
Chef Arnold: For me, culture is what inspires me. I could not survive outside of this arena. I have such a love and appreciation for what Jamaica represents. That’s the direction I’m moving in as a person. I want to curate the food. I can cook it and I can talk about it, but at the end of the day what I want to become is a “reporter” of the food. I plan to start travelling through Jamaica and do a sort of “Anthony Bourdain” style show. We plan to visit all the neighbourhoods, document the food, the recipes. There is nobody else in Jamaica doing this. There is also nobody in Jamaica who can tell you where you should go to eat! I feel like there’s a need for this.
This article was excerpted with permission from Deborah Thompson on www.newjetsetters.com.
To make a reservation to stay or eat at Hermosa Cove visit www.hermosacove.com or call (876) 974 3699.
For recipes from Chef Arnold visit www.jamaicaexperiences.com