Food glorious food… a highlight of any Turquoise Holiday, especially when staying on a palm fringed paradise island abundant in fresh fruit, vegetables, local fish and seafood. Following a recent trip out to the stunning Seychelles, our Marketing Manager Lizzie goes behind the scenes at Raffles Praslin to meet Executive Chef Chris Meredith, the inspiration and curator of taste bud tingling cuisine at one of our favourite Seychellois hot spots.
1) Where and when did your passion for food begin?
I started out working at Paul Heathcote’s restaurant Longridge back in 1994, which was an excellent headstart for me – the restaurant had 2 Michelin stars so you couldn’t ask for a better first experience of the restaurant industry and I learned a huge amount.
2) How long have you been Executive Chef at Raffles Praslin and where were you before?
I’ve been here for 18 months now and it’s flown by. Prior to that, I was at Sandy Lane in Barbados, so not a huge change in terms of the tropical island environment!
3) Do you enjoy living in the Seychelles? Are the local Seychellois flavours a big influence within your menu’s?
The Seychelles is a really beautiful place to live – the people are friendly and the scenery is incredible. It’s great to be able to hop on a boat on your day off and visit one of the other islands, or go to the beach.
We do incorporate a lot of Seychellois influences and ingredients like vanilla from La Digue, tropical fruit and vegetables, and one of our restaurants, Losean, serves a lot of dishes inspired by the Indian Ocean, such as Creole-baked local catch with breadfruit chips and reef fish ceviche with bilimbi (a local fruit) and mango.
4) Do you have a favourite restaurant at the resort?
It’s hard to choose but I love the Asian dishes that we serve in Curieuse, and the setting of the restaurant has an atmospheric island feel. The menu has dishes from India, China, Thailand, and everything is full of flavour. It’s the only Asian restaurant in the Seychelles, so we’re very proud of it.
5) If you could choose one thing off the menu, what would it be?
I would probably go for something simple like the catch of the day. We’re lucky to get the local fishermen’s catch here every day and it’s all delicious. We feature fish in all of our restaurants and menus, as it’s such a key ingredient in Seychellois cuisine.
6) When you are off duty, do you still enjoy cooking? What meal do you cook most often?
I still very much enjoy cooking, even off duty. Every week my family and I take advantage of this amazing island and have a family barbecue right on the beach!
7) If there was one Seychellois dish you encouraged all guests to try, what would it be?
Again I’m going to have to say the local fish and seafood, it’s so fresh and too good to pass up.
8) What is your favourite thing about Raffles Praslin as a resort (outside the restaurants!)?
It goes without saying that the location is incredible – close to Vallee de Mai and Anse Lazio beach – and the views over the Indian Ocean are really unforgettable. Apart from that, I think our team here is doing an amazing job and our service is a credit to the resort. Everyone works extremely hard to make sure our guests have the best experience possible and we are constantly trying to improve, so it’s great to be a part of that.
9) I understand ‘The Sushi Room’ is a relatively new concept at Raffles, is it going well?
It’s going really well – barely an evening goes by that it isn’t fully booked, so I’m thrilled. We use almost all locally-caught fish for the sushi and sashimi, which has such an impact on the flavour. The restaurant itself is intimate, with only eight tables, and the sushi chef prepares everything in front of the guests, so it’s a really authentic experience.
10) Lastly, is there a local restaurant/bar/hidden gem on Mahe that you would recommend to guests staying at the resort?
I’d recommend Laurier Eco Restaurant on Praslin, a lovely spot that is real home cooking and uses only local ingredients.