With its deeply shaded elegance, gingerbread charm and quality culinary reputation, Grace’s Cottage at Point Grace Resort has earned its place as a fixture in Providenciales’ fine-dining scene.
So what does a new guy do to improve on that?
Granted, that’s a tall order. But since his arrival in March, globetrotting Canadian chef Peter Keegan has been busy in the kitchen finding ways to make his mark as Point Grace’s new executive chef.
They say that true creativity begins with the first restriction. For Chef Peter, that means finding ways to innovate within the outlines of popular and proven culinary concepts. For Grace’s Cottage, that means continuing the restaurant’s exploration of Caribbean Fusion cuisine while slowly introducing new menu items and thoughtful presentation changes.
At Hutchings, the resort’s poolside breakfast and lunch restaurant, it means updating the details of a traditional menu to keep it attuned to culinary trends. He’s also working to “lighten up” the fare without making it less substantial or interesting.
For example: The carne asada sandwich is a savory meat-lovers’ delight, but instead of french fries, Chef Peter serves the sandwich with plantain chips and avocado. It’s a simple twist on a classic, complements the main course deliciously, and offers diners a regionally relevant flavor experience.
For an executive chef running the culinary side of a resort with multiple restaurants, the challenge is to interpret each culinary concept through the unique filter of his personal experience. For the Toronto-born Keegan – who sports a forearm-length Arabic tattoo that translates to “Traveler” – that means multiple, diverse kitchens across both Canada and the Middle East.
After a grounding in the practice of modern cuisine in Ontario, Keegan parlayed his skills into an exotic Middle Eastern tour, working restaurants in Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Somewhere along that journey, Chef Peter found himself promoting sustainable fisheries. After returning to Canada he continued that work with the David Suzuki Foundation.
He returned to his career as a chef in Canada in 2014, where he began to settle roots, but the chance to work at Point Grace was too good to pass up.
“The atmosphere at the restaurant is lovely and the resort is a stunning property,” he said. And thanks to his experience on the Arabian Peninsula, where practically every ingredient must be imported, Keegan said he hasn’t “really come across any challenges I didn’t expect.”
He’s interested in adding South American-inspired and Asian dishes to the Caribbean-Fusion theme.
The lunch menu showcases his influence with dishes like Buttermilk Fried Jerk Chicken Salad with roasted pumpkin, grilled green tomatoes, caramelized pineapple and key-lime honey. Or an Asian chicken burger with hoisin and green mango and roasted peanut slaw, paired with a side of tempura green beans and a sweet chili dipping sauce.
The current summer dinner menu has kept the classic dishes diners have come to expect like a juicy Beef Tenderloin, but with updates too. Think Alaskan Halibut in a green curry coconut sauce crusted in pureed roasted pumpkin, and the revamped Caribbean Night each Tuesday now includes new items like juicy Jerk Pork Loin with cucumber yogurt and mango relish.
Creativity may begin with restriction, but the trick is, it shouldn’t end there.
“We play with food every day,” said Chef Peter. So we can expect more exciting updates to come.