Spring is all about new beginnings, and one of the most exciting ones at Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort is Executive chef Chris Hrybiniak. Though island weather on Curacao remains delightful year round, there’s always an excitement in the air come spring. To keep the happy spring ambiance going strong, we thought you might enjoy getting to know our new chef a little better.
It’s time to meet Chris!
Chris, tell us your story, where are you from? When did you discover your love for cooking? How did you get your start?
“I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. I have been involved with food and cooking since an early age. I grew up with an Italian grandmother, and I was always helping her in the kitchen. We would make pizza on the weekends, roll meatballs, pasta from scratch, and can tomatoes and other vegetables from our garden.I continued to cook in restaurants in high school and college. After I earned a degree in Biology, I decided I wanted to be a chef and went to culinary school.”
Where have you lived and traveled to? What brought you to Curacao?
“I spent a few years living in Portland, Oregon and over 18 years in Las Vegas, Nevada. I have spent some time in the Caribbean. I was living in the Bahamas to open a new hotel and then spent a few years in St. Thomas in the USVI. I was working in the Virgin Islands during hurricane Irma and Maria. After the storms, I took some time to travel and be with family. I started to look for my next project and was fortunate to come across a great opportunity to work at the Santa Barbara Resort.“
How have your first few months at Santa Barbara been?
“I started in January during the middle of high season and my first few months have kept me very busy. I have been adjusting to a new job, learning Papiamentu and Dutch and finding my way around the island. We are heading into some slower months, and I look forward to having some free time to explore and enjoy Curacao.”
Have you had a chance to see much of the island yet?
“I am working my way down the list of things to do and eat in Curacao. I have had the opportunity to visit a couple of beaches and hit some of the tourist spots.”
Which Curacaoan dishes do you enjoy eating so far? Do you have any recommendations for visitors?
“Curacao has a lot of great local food. The refreshing batidos, the late-night snacks from some of the food trucks, toasties and brodjies and the national dish Keshi Yena. For a great local experience head to downtown Willemstad and have lunch at Plaza Bieu. Try the fried snapper with funghi, lamb stoba or the arepa de pampuna. Next on my list is to try iguana or ‘tree chicken.’”
What do you love about Curacao so far?
“Curacao is an amazing place. I love that it’s a huge melting pot. It’s a mixture of cultures, languages, and food. It has an old world feel with a Caribbean vibe and modern amenities.”
Is there a particular dish you enjoy cooking the most?
“We have a diverse group of people that stay at the Santa Barbara. They come for a Caribbean experience, so we want to make sure that our menus reflect that. We also want to have some of the comfort items for the individuals who are not so adventurous in their dining choices. In the kitchen, we try and keep things simple. Be consistent, use high-quality ingredients and proper cooking techniques but most importantly, cook with passion.”
Thank you, Chris, for taking the time to chat with us, we are excited to have you as part of the Santa Barbara team, and can’t wait for more guests to taste your excellent cuisine.
Meet the creative and talented chef yourself next time you visit Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort! You can find him at Shore Restaurant, where you’ll be able to taste his creations.