RIP CHEF KURT HOFFMAN. We were all extremely saddened to hear that Chef Kurt Hoffman, 49, died in his sleep, unexpectedly, on the night between Saturday & Sunday of this past week. His friends and colleagues called the house when he failed to show up at work on Sunday. If you knew Kurt, that is not something that happens at all. When the door was opened by emergency services, Kurt was already gone and his friends believe that he transitioned painlessly into the after-life. Born in Germany, educated in Switzerland, the Chef has been living and working on the island since the mid 90s. He came here as the Chef of the new elegant La Vie En Rose, an upscale restaurant at Paradise Beach Villas. The restaurant did not survive the tragic death of its owners, in a car crash, and Kurt went to work for the Bucuti Beach Resort. He has been at Bucuti since then, with a few entrepreneurial interruptions, once to serve as the Chef of the Holiday Inn and once to open a restaurant in San Nicholas, which was quite successful until the refinery closed, then he went back to Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, where he performed in his current position as Director of Food & Beverage, since 2010. Kurt was not just a chef but a nutritionist, he could cook anything, and the resort’s Elements Restaurant is a testimony to his versatility as a professional, delivering tasty Continental, Vegetarian, Vegan and Gluten Free specialties, with precision and flair. By the grief-stricken reaction of staffers, you know the chef was loved and appreciated. He was not always easy to get along with, but staffers knew he was good for the property and respected and valued his leadership and direction. Guests also expressed profound sorrow when hearing the news, Chef Kurt has been cooking special meals for them, adhering to dietary specifications for many years and was treasured by the resort’s many repeat guests, as their private cook. A special memorial on Thursday, will allow his Bucuti colleagues and friends the opportunity to bid farewell, then the general public will be invited on Friday, to present their condolences to family members who are coming here from Germany. The chef was survived by his wife and a 10 year old daughter which he planned to take to Europe this summer, to introduce her to places of his youth and perhaps even show his little island girl, snow. One of my friends who interviewed with Chef Kurt last week said that Kurt had a premonition: You never know when it is your time to go, he said to a total stranger. A bit shy, usually quiet, always funny, the culinary brigade in heaven just got itself an excellent new recruit. Our bad.
FAST DRIVERS. An unfortunate accident made headlines last week when an ABC Tours jeep overturned. I don’t wanna say “I told you so,” but I feel compelled to say it because when we went on an island tour, on Easter Monday, the vehicles of ABC Tours ruled the landscape on the island’s wild side, their tires spinning, grinding the hills into sand, the rocks into flats, in defiance of nature, and living up to the Shake & Bake reputation of the trip, adrenaline pumping. Maybe it’s time to rethink the “extreme” nature of the excursion, and trade it in for some “zen,” sparing people and sparing the earth.
RIGHT SAID FRED. Rumor has it that Chef Fred Wanders will be opening another restaurant, on Wilhelminastreet on the second floor of Que Pasa overlooking that lovely colonial street. Fred was the partner at 2Fools & a Bull cooking studio on Palm Beach, and recently retired his foolish status in favor of vacation, at the end of which he went back to work, putting together a chef owned signature eatery, by the name of Fred, in the heart of town, opening soon. It’s good news for Oranjestad, with more people working on behalf of urban revival. Que Pasa, has always been a culinary destination, now Fred is adding a good reason to go downtown, and judging by the success of Wilhelmina, Fred’s thinking is right.