Stephan Berrouet Durand
The ambassador of Haiti culinary culture
Stephan B. Durand is an award winning and highly acclaimed Chef who has made a name for himself as a Culinary Ambassador for his home country Haiti. A Graduate of one of the top culinary schools in the USA: Johson & Wales University, he brings over 16 year of Culinary experience to his curriculum.
As the creator of the Haiti Food & Spirits Festival, his vision was to create a platform to give Haitian Culinary talent the visibility they would not normally have, to promote Haiti gastronomy through its local products and to help develop the next generation of culinarians through the support of the local culinary programs. Chef Stephan has been invited all over the world to present and promote Haiti's gastronomy at various culinary events. He has received the Haiti Minister of Tourism Honor and Merit for the continued promotion of Haiti's Gastronomy 2013.
CTA: How did you become a Chef and how you got interest in cuisine?
SBD: After a few years of trying to find my calling through college courses, I realized that cooking was always part of my favorite activities. I was always cooking for parties and friends, and one day walked in to Johnson & Wales and never looked back.
Haiti is very well known for its rich culture and heritage. You are the Co-Founder and President of the Haitian Culinary Alliance. You have built on this to promote the local products and its people. You have created “Gout et Saveurs Lakay”, a Haiti Food & Spirits Festival which provides a platform where talented Haitian Chefs are given an opportunity to promote what they are doing. Tell us more on your vision?
First I could not have started any of these projects if I had not found people and colleagues who believed in the vision. When I moved back to Haiti in 2009, my vision was to bring a change in the industry and Haiti and I was very lucky to find others who were working toward that same vision. The idea of the festival was to create a platform which gave value to local products as I saw a huge disparity between imported and local products being used in the country, support and help develop the culinary and hospitality industry in Haiti and give Haitian Talents a platform to be visible. In just 5 years we were also able to create the 1st Haitian Base professional association, it has prompted many of our professionals to come back to Haiti to work and support the rise of the industry, we created a US base food festival called Taste of Haiti which continues to promote Haitian made products and Culinary professionals living in the USA, but most of all we are promoting Haiti's Culture through food.
Supporting education and building awareness in your country are critical for you. You created the Haiti Chefs for Education Platform to show talent, inspiration of young chefs and mentor future Haitian chefs. Can you share the major successes and opportunities and what would be needed to upscale these efforts?
That is probably the most important part of the work I do with the support of my colleagues. We have supported the hotels schools through the donations of equipment's & last year with a partnership with Chef Erika Davis Minority Chef Summit, we spent 3 days with a dozen chefs mentoring students during the Haiti Food & Spirits Festival. With a working partnership with the James Beard Foundation, we are now working on setting up the first culinary library in Haiti this year.