FOURty Seconds with Lauren Callighen

16 Sep 2014
2 min read
Chef Lauren Callighen currently heads up the kitchen at the award-winning ocean front resort on Grace Bay Beach in the Turks and Caicos Islands — Regent Palms. FOUR gets fourty seconds with her to find out more about her food…

What is your earliest memory of being interested in food?

Being a little girl and waiting (patiently) for my Grandmother’s bread to bake. The smell of the house on “bread day” is one of the earliest food memories I have. But there were many moments in my life growing up that lead me to a passion for food. My mother is an excellent cook and my father is very adventurous with food, so we were always introduced to foods that most of our friends would have never heard of let alone eaten as young kids.

Describe your culinary philosophy in a couple of words…

Simple, fresh and vibrant! I think the food should stand out and speak for itself. My job is just to make it be the best version of what it is, and often less is more is the best approach. Every ingredient on the plate should serve a purpose in making the star shine.

What kind of experience do you aim to give guests at your restaurant?

I want to evoke a feeling or memory, and to connect with people through food. When I create a new dish, there is almost always something sentimental to me, some smell or taste that I remember that I want to recreate and make people feel the way I feel about it.

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?

Cooking for and meeting the daughter and grand-daughter of the late Mr. Nelson Mandela. It was a very humbling experience speaking with them and hearing their stories about him. Just being able to sit at a table with them and share a meal and bottle of wine was really special.

And your most challenging?

A lot of days are challenging when you live and work in the Caribbean. You have to be able to adapt and change a plan without notice. From transporting a kitchen and setting up an event on a private island to banquets for 400+ people, my team and I have faced many challenging days at work! One of the most challenging days was a wedding off site with a 6 course tasting menu plus passed hors d’oeuvres – we had no oven, stove or any other basic kitchen equipment. It’s at the end of a day like that that you really feel like you’ve accomplished something.

What are three of your most indispensable ingredients?

Butter, garlic, fresh fish – I would never give up cooking with any of these, butter is like the life-line of my kitchen.

If you could take a plane ride to anywhere in the world, just for one meal, where would it be and why?

North India – I just love the flavours and simple way of cooking.The spices and aromas make me happy!