MAY 31, 2017
INTRODUCING JASON SANTIAGO, SUSHI CHEF
There are so many talented and brilliant personalities that make up Anchor & Den. Here we are speaking to our celebrity Sushi Chef, Jason, about his inspirations and what he loves about being part of the A&D community.
A&D: Where did your journey begin in the world of sushi and what inspired you to become a Sushi Chef?
JS: I grew up in the city of Manila in the Philippines surrounded by people who love food! My uncle was the Head Sushi Chef at a well-known Japanese restaurant. I grew up visiting the restaurant and I knew one day I was going to pursue the same career. He has always been an inspiration to me. When I was a little older my uncle took me under his wing and he encouraged me to become a Chef; he knew I had the passion for this industry. In 2005, I beginning working in the same restaurant as him in the Sulu Hotel in Manila. I loved that job, I realized that the hotel industry offered great opportunities and having my uncle as a mentor was a great honour. In 2006, he flew me over to Jordan in the Middle East where I began working in a 5* Japanese restaurant with my uncle. I settled there for 5 years and developed my skills in Teppanyaki and sushi making.
In 2011, I had a desire for something more. I knew that I was good with people and being in a kitchen without any guest interaction was driving me crazy. I wanted that hospitality aspect back in my job. When I saw there was an opening in Grand Cayman I jumped at the chance. Marriott has a fantastic reputation all around the world and I knew that I needed to get onboard. Chef Antony Le Pape was the Executive Chef at the time. He knew I had experience in the world of sushi so when the hotel was re-branded, he offered me a position to be part of the new Sushi and Raw Bar program. Everything from there just fell into place!
A&D: What do you love most about being a part of the A&D Community?
JS: We are a tight family here! From the top down we all have each other’s backs from the hostesses, the servers, the bartenders and leaders. The ability to be creative is endless; its great to experiment with new ingredients and flavours and the leaders encourage that. That’s the main reason I work here, it is just an amazing atmosphere and I look forward to coming to work, not many people get to say that!
A&D: What inspires your sushi creations?
JS: There are a lot of talented Sushi Chefs out there and I look up to them and their abilities. Social media is a great way to keep your eye on what others are doing and what the latest trends are. I like to create my own style of sushi, a lot of chefs would stick to their guns and play it safe but I like to create my own concoctions, sauces and combinations of flavours. Don’t get me wrong, traditional combinations in sushi are classics for a reason but I always want to grow my knowledge and come up with new flavours. We have a ‘Special Sushi Roll of the Day’ so I have the opportunity to experiment with my creations! I respect my team’s opinions and their constructive feedback. We are all foodies here so getting their opinions on the new menus before launching is essential; they are honest and will tell me if I messed up! (laughter)
A&D: What are some of your favourite ingredients to use?
JS: I love using local products! On this small island its easy to get the freshest catch and we have some unusual products here too. I love using black snapper – I’ve never come across black snapper before I moved to the Cayman Islands but it works so well in rolls. It’s a tougher meat than regular snapper but its super flavorful! I love using tropical flavours in the rolls too, using locally sourced plantains and grilled pineapple goes great with fresh fish!
A&D: And finally any trends catching your eye at the moment, do you see any being adapted to our menu?
JS: Well, crispy rice is a big thing now and I love using it, it gives rolls that extra element and texture. Poke bowls are seen all over social media as well as things like sushi donuts! (laughter) I don’t know how I feel about them!
If you’re in the mood for dinner and a show tonight, visit our Raw Bar and Sushi Station at Anchor & Den and meet the talented Jayson. Trust us, your taste buds will thank you!