LifestylesSpice

Bahamian chefs it up for power couple

Kevyn Pratt whips up culinary delights for Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union and their family

After graduating high school, Kevyn Pratt sought work in the culinary field for a very simplistic reason – he thought cooking would be an easy job. A decade-and-a-half later, he is one of The Bahamas’ top young chefs, and a private chef and nutritionist for Wade Enterprises, charged with whipping up culinary delights for former NBA player Dwyane Wade and actress Gabrielle Union and their family.

Pratt has been cooking for the power couple for the past year and five months, preparing nutritious meals for the family as well as functions. He is responsible for ensuring that the food presented ensures that his clients remain fit, toned and healthy, and always camera ready, without missing out on the joys of deliciousness.

“Whatever they have going and food is needed … I’m there,” said Pratt, 32, who is based at the Wade family’s Los Angeles, California, home.

Chef Kevyn Pratt’s pumpkin spice buttermilk pancakes with mango blueberry and thyme maple syrup/Chantilly cream, bananas and fresh mint.

It’s a job he was recommended for by chef Richard Ingraham, who is also a personal chef for the couple, author of “Eating Well to Win” and has a mission to raise the bar of performance eating through high-level home cooking. Ingraham’s book is a testament to his overall philosophy on life: what you put in your body influences what you get out of the world – and to eat not only to nourish yourself, but to feed the soul and raise the spirit.

Pratt stepped out on a limb when he took the position. He left his previous executive chef post at Royal Blue Tavern at Baha Mar during the pandemic in 2021, to take on the role.

He transitioned from a world of constant pressure and meetings into a more intimate setting which allows him to showcase his creativity and cater to his clients.

Blackened cod fish with fire-roasted cream corn succotash, sundried tomato pesto, snow peas and vine-ripened blistered cherry tomatoes.

The job, he said, allows him to “evolve my talent to fit what is going on”.

“At this level, it helped me think outside the box and helped me to understand calories and food intake and what food actually does for the body on a different scale. It’s not just cooking at a restaurant where we’re trying to make the food taste good and just putting stuff in to get to that goal. For this level of clientele, you have to be aware of their dietary restrictions to ensure they always put their best foot forward.”

And he said hydration is super important.

“I enjoy just being able to challenge myself and take myself to the next level. It’s a different challenge and harder than being in the hotel. You have to make sure you have the groceries, be aware of time constraints and that you have everything. You don’t have time to mess up. You have to be on it.”

Pratt is also aware that he had big shoes to emulate.

Limoncello sour cream, vanilla lemon zest crumble with hazelnut frosting muffins.

“Chef Rich has set such a high standard that I have to live up to, and be as good as, or better. The way he carried himself, being there for 18-20 years, and cooking for them [Wades]. He goes above and beyond and that inspires me to be 100 percent better. This guy’s taking it to the next level, and you have to do the same.”

When Ingraham is in LA, Pratt works together with him in the kitchen to execute. Pratt also takes the time, he said, to pick the chef’s brain; after all, Ingraham takes an imaginative look at world-class ingredients and spirits, and he said his food begs to be shared between friends and inspires even the most amateur of chefs to get in the kitchen. When not in the kitchen, Ingraham can be found buried in culinary research and keeping up to date on all of the latest culinary trends.

Pratt said he also takes the time to share what he can with Ingraham, from his years of experience and knowing that with his youth he brings a modern take on things.

He describes the culinary career he has today and what he has accomplished on his still young life as “mind-blowing.”

Pork potstickers with chili ginger consommé, bok choy and asparagus stir fry, chili oil and toasted sesame seeds.

“Looking back at who I was as a teenager or young adult … I would have never envisioned or thought I would be where I am today,” said the chef. “When I first entered the culinary world, I didn’t think I would have accomplished what I would have done.”

He said it was his hard work coupled with support and encouragement from the late DeAnne Gibson, former culinary manager, Ministry of Tourism; and chefs Wayne Moncur, Emmanuel Gibson, and Angel Betancourt that he learned the fundamentals of culinary, what it means to be a professional, honed his skills, and execution to become the best.

Prior to his five-year Royal Blue Tavern stint, Pratt was employed at Ocean Club where he had occasion to cook for a number of celebrities that stayed in the villas, but he finds it “amazing” that he is able to say that he is a personal chef for the Wades.

“I’m charged with understanding what they need and executing it to make it happen.”

That means daily 5:30 a.m. starts for Pratt, preparing breakfast for the family and ensuring the children have what they need for school, and preparing lunch and dinner, if his clients are in town.”

Pratt, who started a cinnamon bun company he named Bella Buns in The Bahamas during the COVID lockdowns, which became wildly popular, has also given the Wade family a taste of the treats: “Just how everybody was freaking out over my cinnamon buns in The Bahamas … well Bella Buns came to LA.”

They’ve also had a taste of The Bahamas as Pratt has prepared peas and rice for the family.

Pratt obtained an associate degree in culinary arts from College of The Bahamas (now University of The Bahamas). His first teacher was Emmanuel “Mannie” Gibson. He remembers Gibson asking students in the class on their first day, what they wanted to get out of being a chef, and of looking Gibson in the eye and saying, “I want to be the best.”

His first job was at Anthony’s Grill, which Chef Mario Adderley was instrumental in helping him get. It was a while at that restaurant that he said he fell in love with being a chef because of the speed with which they operated in the kitchen, with its fast in and out casual dining concept.

“I never really fell in love with the recipes. I fell in love with the speed of the kitchen and from there it just took off. I wanted to be the best.”

He moved from there to Ocean Club in 2009, which he said is where he learned about professionalism under Gibson, Moncur and Betancourt about ingredients, as well as what cooking is actually all about.

“I developed my base as a chef and how to actually cook.”

Pratt also made his first national culinary team as a junior chef, and competed at the Taste of the Caribbean, where he earned a gold medal. He was encouraged to try out for the team by culinary instructor Chef Addiemae Farrington. He and five other junior chefs vied for the one available spot on the national team. Pratt won the coveted spot and went on to win in Miami. He has since been a member of five Taste of the Caribbean national culinary teams.

It was through that team that he met DeAnne Gibson, and said the training he got as a member of the team, and being in the sphere of other chefs and like-minded people working to get better daily that took his craft to the next level. He said they were all trying to be better than they were the previous day.

“Being around people like chefs Devin Ferguson, Jamal Small, who is one of those dudes in my age bracket who I look up to and want to be like, Tracy [Sheldon Sweeting], Ron Johnson, Simeon Hall, Michael Harris, Charon McKenzie – people who are doing it … and DeAnne in the background pushing us. We were a young team and Ms. Gibson would be like, you are going to be in the forefront.”

Pratt said being a member of the national culinary team afforded him opportunities that he wouldn’t have gotten.

“Being on those teams opened doors that wouldn’t have been opened. People started to see you in a different light and you had to live up to those expectations, or fall by the wayside. A lot of doors were opened, and that’s where I met Frank Comito. [Then Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BTA) executive vice president.]

Pratt said Comito and the late Gibson were an integral part in his obtaining his bachelor’s degree from Johnson & Wales. They encouraged him to pursue further studies after he graduated from COB. He was hesitant because he said he did not have good grades.

But Comito was instrumental in helping him obtain two scholarships – Caribbean Hotel Tourism Association (CHTA) and from Johnson & Wales, along with a Ministry of Education scholarship – which allowed Pratt to earn his bachelor’s degree for free.

“It wasn’t for having the best grades … but for hard work and determination and people seeing something in me that I didn’t see in myself,” said the son of Mario and Paula Meadows. “It was hard work and dedication.”

The then newly-minted college grad took up a post at Resorts World Bimini as a sous chef before he returned to his old stomping ground at  Ocean Club under Betancourt and Moncur and worked at Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Dune restaurant.

For now, Pratt is learning all he can from Ingraham, and also looking at his stint with the Wades as a way to position himself and as he puts it, “get himself organized to put his name on the map”.

His long-term goal has him envisioning himself as a corporate chef or the possibility of his own company.

Pratt shared a Limoncello sour cream, vanilla lemon zest crumble, hazelnut frosting muffins recipe, one that he has prepared for the Wades, for readers of The Nassau Guardian to try at home.

Limoncello Sour Cream/Vanilla Lemon Zest Crumble/Hazelnut Frosting

Ingredients

2 ¾ cup all-purpose flour

2 ½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 ¼ cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest

⅓ c unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

⅓ cup vegetable oil

⅓ c sour cream *

1.25 tablespoon fresh Meyer lemon juice

1.25 tablespoon Limoncello

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Crumb topping

⅔ c flour

⅓ c sugar

3 tablespoon butter, melted

2 teaspoon lemon zest

1 vanilla bean cut in half and seeded

Pinch salt

Glaze

¾ cup powdered sugar

1-2 tablespoon hazelnut creamer

Make the crumb topping:

Mix all the ingredients with a fork until crumbly, set in the refrigerator until ready to add to the muffins.

Make the muffins:

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.

In a bigger mixing bowl rub the sugar and zest together with your fingers until very fragrant, whisk in the melted butter and oil, then add in the sour cream, lemon juice, limoncello, eggs and vanilla whisking again until well mixed. Add in the flour mixture and stir with a spatula until no more flour streaks remain.

Divide batter between all 12 wells equally, they will be very full if not over the top, that is ok. Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the tops of the muffins.

Bake the muffins at 425 degrees F for 8 minutes without opening the oven, reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and bake for another 20-22 minutes or until the tops bounce back when pressed/toothpick inserted to the middle top is clean. They will be a light golden color.

Let cool in the muffin pan for 20 minutes and then carefully remove the muffins to cool completely on a wire rack.

If adding the icing drizzle, whisk together the powdered sugar and hazelnut creamer then drizzle over the cooled muffins with a fork.

These keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days.

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Shavaughn Moss

Shavaughn Moss joined The Nassau Guardian as a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor. Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics. Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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