Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten has been coming to The Bahamas and staying at The Ocean Club since he opened Dune in October 2000, and over the years he has grown to love the island nation, its culture and the people, so when Hurricane Dorian devastated two of the country’s 16 populated islands, it was a no-brainer for the world-renowned chef to host a fundraising event in an effort to assist in the restoration of the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama.
He also wanted to shed light on the fact that while the two islands were devastated, the rest of the country’s inhabited islands, including New Providence and Paradise Island, where his restaurant is located at The Ocean Club, A Four Seasons Resort, were unscathed and are open for business.
A week ago, he flew into New Providence to host the fundraising event to benefit World Central Kitchen (WCK), an organization that was among the first charitable initiatives on the ground in areas distressed by Hurricane Dorian.
“I have witnessed the effects of Mother Nature several times on The Bahamas and have always seen it prevail; this time is different. I am making it my priority to give back to the community that has welcomed me and so many visitors over the years,” said Jean-Georges.
“I felt for everybody [on Abaco and Grand Bahama]. Everything was fine [at Dune on Paradise Island], but what some people don’t realize is that The Bahamas has 700 islands [and cays] and only two were destroyed, so I decided to come to promote the hotel, the restaurant and The Bahamas.”
As the event was being held at Dune, Jean-Georges simultaneously had all of his restaurants in New York earmark a portion of their sales to go to World Central Kitchen as well.
While I did not get the opportunity to spend time with the chef during his evening of cordiality, hospitality and delicacy at Dune restaurant for the simple reason that he wanted every cent raised from menu sales to go towards the World Central Kitchen donation, I think I got something even better; I got to spend an entire afternoon, along with a select few, in an intimate setting, for what would be a delightful experience being able to chat at leisure with the chef.
Chef Jean-Georges also displayed copies of his latest book “JGV: A Life in 12 Recipes: Jean-Georges Vongerichten” which isn’t really a cookbook, but rather a letter to young chefs – a memoir of sorts – to inspire these chefs in one of the last manual crafts. He describes the book which he released two weeks ago as a fun read.
“I’ve been cooking for 46 years now so it’s really about that. At the time I was starting you had to travel to learn about food, now you can go to the internet if you want to know about conch. It’s more like a memoir, even though I feel I’m not that old,” he joked.
Other books by the renowned chef include “Simple Cuisine”; “Cooking at Home with a Four Star Chef” for which he won Best Cookbook Award from the James Beard Foundation; “Simple to Spectacular”; “Asian Flavors of Jean-Georges”; and “Home Cooking with Jean-Georges: My Favorite Simple Recipes”.
Besides Dune, Jean-Georges, one of the world’s most famous chefs, is responsible for the operation and success of a constellation of three and four star restaurants worldwide with double digit restaurants in New York City alone – ABC Cocina, ABC Kitchen, ABCV, Jean-Georges, Nougatine, Terrace at Nougatine, JoJo, Louis, Perry St., Public Kitchen, Simply Chicken, The Mark, The Mercer Kitchen, The Fulton, and Paris Café; two in Las Vegas – Prime Steakhouse and Jean-Georges Steakhouse; three in Miami Beach – Matador Room, Market at Edition, and Tropicale; two in Los Angeles – Jean-Georges Beverly Hills and The Rooftop by JG; two in Philadelphia – Jean-Georges Philadelphia, and Jean-Georges Sky High; two in Bridgehampton – Jean-Georges at Topping, and Rose House; and The Inn at Pound Ridge. He also has Spice Market, Vong and 66.