Not only is Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort breathtakingly beautiful, but it’s an island famous for having delicious cuisine!
Serenely situated on 2,000 acres of Caribbean island paradise on Curacao, lies Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort. The resort is widely known for its breathtaking surroundings and a never-ending array of amenities and activities.
The resort is also well-known for its mouth-watering cuisine. From traditional island fare to expertly rolled sushi, the dining options at the resort are plentiful. A huge part of what makes Santa Barbara’s dining scene successful is the fearless leader – Steve Vermote the Director of Food & Beverage.
We wanted to give everyone a chance to get to know Steve, and his vision, better, so we interviewed him!
Steve, could you briefly, share with us your journey into the Food & Beverage world/career path?
I began my career in Egypt as a bar manager with a Belgian hotel chain. I quickly rose through the ranks, and eventually started managing various bars in different hotels rather than one bar in a single hotel. Unfortunately, the geopolitical crisis that arose in Egypt made my career there challenging, so I left for Dubai instead. I continued my career in Dubai for some years as an F&B Manager. Then, having the experience needed, I traveled to Asia – the Maldives, Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia for work purposes. Eventually, I moved to the Caribbean. My last assignment before Curacao was in Jamaica with Sandals Resorts, which is the largest premium all-inclusive chain in the Caribbean.
How did you come to be the Director of Food and Beverage at Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort?
I was contacted by a recruiter who had asked me If I was interested in a role in Curacao, as they were looking for someone with multiple language skills.
I speak fluent Dutch, English, French, and German. I also speak basic Arabic due to my experiences in the Middle East.
As the Director of Food and Beverage, what would you say your main role is?
I am fully responsible for all operations that include food and beverage. This means I am responsible for events and restaurants. From minibar to In-Room Dining to off-site catering. I consider my main role to be being a leader for my team of culinary and service experts. I guide them to provide our guests with a true 5-star experience within Santa Barbara.
What are your favorite aspects of your position? Which day-to-day tasks, or grand scheme tasks, do you enjoy the most?
Creativity. I can be very creative day in and day out, which enables me, and the team, to give our guests the best 5-star service possible. I enjoy spending time with my team members the most – to be close to them to understand the challenges they experience, which I then try to solve. Having to think about new menus and new concepts is one of my other tasks that I enjoy the most.
How many F&B concepts are there on the Plantation?
We have our Shore Restaurant which is fine dining. Then we have Medi Restaurant which is Mediterranean cuisine. Splash is our pool bar/restaurant, which is a grill concept. Recently we have added our Jun’s Sushi to Shore which has allowed a combination of freshly made and rolled sushi into the concept of Shore.
Are any of the traditional dishes and flavors of Curacao offered at any of Santa Barbara’s dining establishments?
Most of our chefs are from Curacao, and we value them for their creativity in creating some of the local dishes. One of our chefs is great in making Stoba, which is a local dish with goat or beef meat. Truly delicious! The fried fish with funchi is definitely something to try when visiting our Medi Restaurant.
If you had friends or family coming to Santa Barbara for a stay, which dishes, drinks, appetizers, and/or desserts would you recommend they order?
Recently, an extensive Gin selection has been added to our Shore Cocktail menu. I would definitely recommend my friends and family to choose one of the specially designed gin-tonic combinations off of the cocktail menu. Our Ceviche in Shore Restaurant is to crave for! I would even say we are the best at making Ceviche in Curacao, as we constantly get raving comments from our guests. I would have them end the night with a lovely grilled Beef Tenderloin at Shore or a Moroccan Tagine at Medi. I recommend both highly. Not to mention our pastry chefs are day in day out busy with creating the best and most exquisite collection of desserts for people who have a sweet tooth!
What is your five-year (or longer if applicable) vision for the F&B at Santa Barbara?
Currently, we do have any additions planned. However, we are constantly looking to introduce new concepts into our existing restaurants. What I can reveal is that our new menus are nearly ready, and they will be rolled out during the months of July and August in both Splash and Medi. Furthermore, we are working on some fun, new food concepts to integrate soon as well.
Thank you so much for your time and insight, Steve! Our taste buds are pleading for a taste of Santa Barbara’s cuisine ASAP! For anyone looking to take a Caribbean getaway soon, you can book your stay here at Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort.