Chicago-transplant Chef in Grand Cayman
On a Sunday evening, I dined at Over the Edge Café on the North Side of Grand Cayman Island just in time to watch the sunset.
As mentioned previously, I have an adventurous palate and I’m always on the lookout for something I haven’t tried before so I ordered the Turtle Steaks. It was, in a word, divine.
Turtle Steaks, really?
It’s Cayman Delicacy and, yes, it’s a real turtle. The texture reminded me of flank steak yet it was not nearly as gummy and the taste was definitely not gamy. The steak was so tender that I could’ve swallowed it whole. However, the red beans and rice, potato salad, vegetable medley and plantain that accompanied it was enough to slow me down for a few minutes. Yet the steak was so good that I hoped we’d return before we left the island for good.
On the following Thursday, my friends and I came back to Over The Edge Cafe. No pleading necessary. Even with some other tempting items on the menu, I ordered the Turtle Steaks again and requested to speak to the Chef, if he was available, to personally express my contentment.
The Chef is from Chicago
I think everyone has heard the oft-told tale of leaving everything behind in America, going somewhere yet unknown, and finding success. Meet Chef Jason.
He came for vacation from Chicago with a friend in 2012 and has never left.
As a graduate of a Chicago culinary school, Jason had no problems finding a job in that city. His success with the saucepan was noted by the restaurant owners as their business grew but it was his prowess in running and organizing the kitchen that propelled him to management. He managed two restaurants and worked 80-100 hours per week before his fated 2012 vacation to Grand Cayman.
He and a friend flew down to Grand Cayman just to relax and find some fun in the sun. They stayed not too far from Over The Edge Cafe and walked in one day for some grub. A conversation was overheard, Jason took the chance and applied for the job. Back in Chicago, he was burnt out, fed up with promises, and not cooking. The owner asked him to step into the kitchen, he whipped up a few things, and the owner gave him the job on the spot. And the rest, they say, is history.
There’s a government requirement for non-native/resident employment where Jason had to leave the island for 3-weeks before he could officially apply and be accepted so he spent some of his time in Miami and closed his affairs back home in the windy city.
He’s an expat now and happy with his future. In Chef Jason’s own words, “I’m living the dream.”
And I’m inclined to be jealous.