Verban “Dezi” Banhan – Featured Chef August 2013

Verban “Dezi” Banhan – Featured Chef August 2013

Dezi pictureBorn in St. James, Jamaica, Executive Chef Dezi Banhan has the Caribbean deep in his heart.  One of his true passions is finding ways to give Caribbean food international exposure and to constantly explore new ways to “raise the bar” in Caribbean cooking.  He also takes great pleasure and pride in bringing the guests of Hermitage Bay the healthiest and most delicious versions of Caribbean food he can serve!

Chef Banhan’s career began at Superclubs’ Grand Lido Negril; he then went on to complete formal Culinary as well as Hotel and Restaurant Management degrees in the United States. From there he went on to Ritz Carlton to be part of the opening team of the White Witch Clubhouse Restaurant followed by a short return to  Grand Lido’s declining La Pasta restaurant. He then Joined Couples Negril where he learned the rigors of kitchen management from a German chef/ Artist, before migrating again, this time to Antigua’s Carlisle Bay to join yet another opening team before opening Hermitage Bay as executive chef.

 Among Chef Banhan’s many accomplishments during his career, perhaps the most meaningful has been the opportunity to train the strong, focused & professional Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association Education Fund students in Haiti. He found this unique and rewarding opportunity after searching his heart on how he could best help the people of Haiti after the devastating earthquake. He was able to also assist Team Haiti for their first ‘Taste of the Caribbean’ competition in 2012.

Chef Banhan has many interests outside of the kitchen and he uses his skills to enhance his community in a variety of ways.  He introduced farm tours to Antigua to help boost agro tourism.   He has also been involved with introducing the mango festival, Antigua culinary festival and a BBQ competition to the island.  He has volunteered his time both as an instructor at the Hospitality training institute and by mentoring and food sourcing for Haitian Students studying in Antigua.  Dezi also enjoys annual guest mentoring appearances to the student at the St Joseph’s academy in Antigua.  In an effort to connect the guests at Hermitage more closely with Caribbean culture and food, Chef Banhan leads organic garden tours and has introduced weekly cooking demonstrations for guests.

 Dezi won several culinary awards while he was living in Jamaica, for cooking, food arts and sculptures. Since then he has gone on to represent the cuisine of his new home Antigua twice: first at the US meat export federation cook-off in Mexico and second as team manager for the Antigua National culinary team .  He also received the proclamation scroll from the Mayor of the city of North Miami for the work he has done with the Haitian Culinary Team and a certificate of appreciation from the Consul General of Haiti for contributions to the development of the Haitian food. Despite these honors, his most prized award was being awarded the Chef of the Year for Antigua in 2007.2008.  Chef Dezi is a Certified Executive Chef (CEC)through the American Culinary Federation and at this time he is the only CEC on the Island of Antigua.

Chef Banhan fuels his passion for food through memories of his mother and grandmother’s cooking.  Inspiration is never short as he has the support of his wife and two boys to keep him going, but just as importantly he has a strong supporting team of chefs and cooks to work with and challenge him along the way.

You can contact Chef Banhan at vermanbanhan@hermitagebay.com

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