~ Delightful fare! ~

How I love the evenings out we have – just us girls on occasion! The song “Just the two of us” comes to mind and although that may be meant as a lovers’ song, it can be adapted to being with anyone who has a lot of meaning to you. Of course, having fine wine along with a delicious meal in a great ambiance helps set the mood.

And so it was one evening recently that we found ourselves driving and chatting away nineteen to the dozen, no fixed place that we were heading to, just following our noses. Past Grand Case, one takes the road at the roundabout to Cul de Sac, down that road. Almost at the turnoff to Anse Marcel is a cottage that has changed hands a few times over the years, once it was Hibiscus, then A Pinch of Salt and more recently we noticed it is called A Grain of Pepper.

My companion said she has friends who go there quite often; it is their home away from home. I was intrigued to try it, as the building is painted in the shades of various peppers – not the capsicum variety but the hard pepper-grinding type of pepper – browns, greys and blues. Inside we found that a hint of red pepper was used on the cushion covers on the chairs – pretty whimsical and fun and the welcome we got from the wait staff was warm and inviting.

We were seated at a table by a large, open window. I must say we were both a tad chilly, but knowing that this is the “chilly” time of year, we had gone prepared – must be gorgeous on a hot summer’s evening sitting at the open windows.

This is actually a Mom and Pop place as it turns out. The sweet person who welcomed us so warmly and waited on us is the owner and the chef is her husband. In between being served, we heard a bit of their story. Both French, she worked for some years in London at one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants; her husband comes from the Pyrenees. Their sense of whimsy prompted them to put the play on the name of their restaurant.

The walls are adorned with paintings by a local artist, in the same pepper colours – they are mostly of nudes. The tables are laid in an understated simplicity – we could have been dining in an old farmhouse in the middle of the French countryside.

Our first course came almost immediately after we got our cocktails; these were a good Mojito and a G&T (gin and tonic), we also had a very nice rose wine with our meal. Our first courses were delightful, we had Escargot in Puff Pastry and Saumurade of Salmon with a lemon and aneth sauce. The snails in puff pastry was out of this world, the sauce was so more-ish, just not enough of it – snail soup should be a menu item using just that sauce and some of the wee critters. The gravadlax, however, was simply to swoon over; a house specialty that captures all the best of the salmon flavours and the sauce a perfect accompaniment.

Our entrees were wonderful too, we enjoyed a confit of duck and a very good seared tuna, although the tuna was wonderfully flavoured and perfectly cooked, the outside could have been a little more seared to arrive at the table a bit hotter. It was chilly that evening, of course. The veggies were green beans and a puree of carrot.

Our desserts were a perfect ending to the meal – the French styled apple pie won hands down with a thin pastry crust, a layer of apple and drizzled with a gooey caramel sauce, served with a scoop of delicious caramel ice cream; the chocolate lava cake had an awesome, gooey chocolate centre and was served with some vanilla ice cream – perhaps I should recant that and say they got equal points as they were both worthy of a great ending to a most enjoyable meal.

We had spied a side table with homemade rum decanters and were pleased to find that they were not just for show when we were offered a shot of rum to finish the meal – this French tradition of fruity rum shots at the end of a meal is the best.

The entire evening was most enjoyable and not terribly expensive; this great family restaurant is well worth trying out, especially for its satisfyingly delicious repast.

Info:

Le Grain de Poivre

111 route de cul de sac

Cul De Sac, Saint Martin

Phone: +590 690 77-9787

http://legraindepoivresxm.wixsite.com/stmartin

Ratings:

Staff friendliness: ****

Service speed: ****

Restaurant cleanliness: ****

Food quality: ****

Value for money: ****

Ambience: ****

@ Soggy Dollar Bar

Wondering where you can get ice-cold drinks, a banging sound system, the best DJ’s playing the best tunes, a crowd you can get down with, and a venue that somehow gets everyone in the party mood? Look no further, obviously you are going to head to Soggy Dollar Bar!

Every Tuesday head on over to Soggy Dollar Bar for the best Latin Night on the island brought to you by Brugal Rum! The party starts at 7pm with Salsa classes by Laura & Daniel. The two talented teachers can teach you whether you are young and old, beginner and expert, have rhythm or not; all the moves you need to have a great time at Latin Night.

At 9pm DJ Junior takes over the turntables and at 10pm Latin Sugar Band will take the stage and deliver song after song, beat after beat, of your favorite Latin hits, that it will be near impossible not to fall in love with Latin music. Ladies are you not convinced yet? There will be free margaritas and mojitos for the ladies! Come and enjoy the hottest Tuesday Nights now at Soggy Dollar Bar.

On Thursdays enjoy Urban Thursdays with Topadetop DeejBlaze & Guest starting at 10pm. DeejBlaze will play your favourite old school and new school in Hip Hop, Dancehall, Soca, Reggaeton and EDM! Free entrance and crazy drink specials all night long!

On Fridays you can find just about everyone who is ready to party at Soggy Dollar Bar for Soggy Fridayz. DJ Bossman and guests keep the crowd dancing and the sexy Soggy Ladies keep everyone drinking till the early hours of the morning.

Soggy Dollar Bar is open everyday, from 3pm on weekdays and 4pm on Sundays. Happy Hour is every night from 5pm till 7pm. Make sure to keep a look out for the array of special events, concerts and nights on Soggy’s schedule!

For more information about this event or other upcoming great events at soggy dollar bar: surf to www.soggydollarsxm or find soggy on facebook at facebook.com/soggydollarbar.

The good thing about living on an island with two governments is that they must have two Carnival seasons and it is that time again for the French side to begin their fete, which starts on February 4 and ends on March 1.

I know it still seems far away, but an early pre-Carnival event will be held on January 28 in the Galis Bay village, during which a St. Martin band will be chosen to participate in “Battle of the Bands III” – a Sound Master’s event scheduled for February 24. Participating islands include St. Kitts, Dominica, St. Croix, Anguilla and St. Martin. Those who can’t wait for the fete to begin can start marking their calendar for the Battle of the Bands III showdown.

The 2017 French side Carnival Village will have 12 booth-holders: five of them are regulars and the other seven are newcomers. The containers in Carnival Village will be painted in Carnival colours to make them more presentable for revellers. Other highlights to look forward to are the Individual Costume Competition on February 18 and the Calypso Show with local calypsonians on February 21.

The St. Martin Carnival committee, Festivités Carnavalesque de St. Martin (FCDSM), is working hard to get you excited about Carnival 2017 and will be hitting radio stations, social media and newspapers to get the word out. A Calypso show has not been held on the French side for at least 10 years, but this year’s Miss Pitchounette and Junior pageants will be held on February 12 in Carnival Village.

As far as the parades are concerned, eight troupes have already registered for the children’s parade and six for the adult parade. “Seven Wonders of the World” is the theme for the children’s parade. FCDSM encourages the districts that have never participated in Carnival, or those that are thinking about making a comeback, to consider entering a troupe as the troupes are a very important instrument of Carnival.

FCDSM understands that it is difficult on the French side to put together a troupe and that it takes a lot of funds; this is why it is urging businesses and companies to get into the Carnival spirit by contributing financially to the troupes and giving back to the community. The organization wants the population to support the parades and all the events – not just the shows in Carnival Village. The more revellers there are on the road, the more beautiful the parade looks.

Make it your business to go on social media and look for the schedule, because French St. Martin Carnival is almost here!

There seems to be a constant buzz surrounding the newly renovated Refuge Restaurant Lounge, and with good reason as the owners have spared no ingenuity to bring this new place to life. Between the parties, the atmosphere and the overall newness of the place, there seems to be much more in store for them. There has been a lot of chatter in Foodieverse about the restaurant, so much so that it was more a matter of when I would go rather than if I would. So, as it goes, I mentally opened up a button on my jeans and headed over to Sunset Beach. It is child-friendly, which was really convenient, because my nephew was with me. Thus, armed with an empty stomach and a five-year-old, I was ready to finally experience The Refuge and find out if it was worth the hype.

The first impression of a restaurant is always its décor and atmosphere. There was a noticeable difference as I walked from the brightly lit parking lot and stepped into the restaurant. From the moment you step into The Refuge, the lighting is softer and the ambiance consumes you as if to say, “Relax, we know what we’re doing.” I can’t decide if my favourite part was the falling water screen and pool combo, or being seated over the water – I’m a sucker for a view. Let us take a moment to appreciate the world wonder that is a restaurant on a cliff situated directly next to a world famous beach where planes land. Yes, it’s an experience worth having. If it’s your first time there and you or your little one is prone to being chilly, I suggest you dress warmly. We weren’t prepared and the staffers were kind enough to provide a sweater for my nephew when he mentioned he was cold.

The staffers, who I am now obsessed with, are incredibly attentive. There was a point in time that I had to look around to see if it was only me receiving this treatment, but they are generally very pleasant and observant with everyone. Looks of pleasure and wonderment were plastered on the faces of others as well, and it made me wonder if my passionfruit margarita was playing tricks on me. Have I mentioned their margaritas are the size of a small child, and if you so desire can be served in an entire pitcher with a straw.

The menu is short and concise with simple, but tasty options. I saw it and thought, “What diet”? The appetizers were easy enough to choose, because I was in the mood for seafood. The crispy calamari was my first choice, it’s a simple enough dish, but many chefs overthink it and get a rubbery mess and/or greasy batter. In addition to the calamari, I chose the seafood lollipops, for the name. They sounded interesting. There was barely any wait time for the appetizers, which is probably because the night was quiet, but it was appreciated. The calamari and lollipops were cooked perfectly. I looked for signs of too much grease or batter and found none; and the seafood was the right side of tender and the coconut curry sauce was the right balance of savoury and exotic. Time must be a moment taken to appreciate the presentation. The Refuge has an aversion to basic plating and it’s amazing. My lollipops came skewered into a wooden plank next to miniature versions of the Eiffel Tower and ceramic clogs.

After having the appetizers, I wasn’t certain what I wanted, so I sought answers from the chef, who suggested the Cowboy Rib Eye and the Farfalle Giuseppe Verde. Both dishes were ordered and I would usually have the steak, but I chose heads and ended up being the one with the Farfalle Giuseppe Verde. It is a combination of bowtie pasta, shrimp, cherry tomatoes, spinach, fresh basil garlic and extra virgin olive oil. Parmesan is optional, but you should take advantage of it. I was halfway in between mouthgasms with my shrimp dish when I had a bite of that oh-so-tender Rib Eye. There was another bite, then another, until my hand was shewed away.

There is a special place in the Great Beyond for chefs who pay such special attention to their side vegetables, which were grilled just enough to be cooked, but still retained their original crunch. Zucchini isn’t my favourite vegetable, but I would eat it every day if it’s coming from the kitchen at The Refuge. The things the chef does with sides are incredible. If there is anything you do try, make sure the mashed potato is one of them. Pesto mashed potato is a solid 10. As if I wasn’t hooked enough, dessert showed up. They recreated half a coconut using a lightly whipped coconut mousse with a genius chocolate shell and garnished the plate with a refreshing pineapple and guavaberry salad. I don’t know how I’ll get back to my regular life after this.

The Refuge

#2 Beacon Road, Maho

Phone: + 1 (721) 545-2084

Open: 6:00pm to 3:00am

Cuisine: Italian with a Caribbean flare

Price range: $$

Credit Cards, Cash

Reservations: Not necessary, but suggested

Ratings:

Staff friendliness: *****

Service speed: *****

Restaurant cleanliness: *****

Food quality: *****

Value for money: *****

Ambience: *****

Entrepreneur Beatrice Richardson- Piper is a soft spoken and open minded young lady, who’s always wanted to own her own business. Her dream was not confirmed until the last months of 2015. It’s then that she found her passion, which is maintaining and advising/consulting with black women who wear their hair natural.

Who is Beatrice Richardson- Piper?

A young entrepreneur, Mother of 3, and I’m happily married.

I grew up in a business owner household as my father had his own Auto parts shop. RoI started to work there from the age of 16 and after a while the business was taken over by my sister.

Where were you born?

I was born on the French side of the island.

Education?

I attended Lycée Polyvalent Des Iles Du Nord on the french side of the island.

Hobbies?

I enjoy looking at YouTube hair tutorials and reading about Natural hair

What do you do for a living?

I’m the owner of Glamorous Hairtopia. It’s a store that opened its doors on July 18th, 2016. I offer hair consultations with Naturalistas (black women who wear their hair natural) or persons who are on their way to Naturalista land (transitioning) based on their hair type. I also sell natural hair products, wooden jewelry, fabric and clothing. The clothing consists of natural hair t- shirts and clothing made from African print fabric.

What type of products do you like to use on your hair without?

I absolutely love using natural oils on my hair.

Who’s your favourite natural hair guru?

Jenell Stewart is my absolute favourite and the reason for that is because we appear to have the same type of natural hair. I also admire the manner in which she spends quality time with her family.

What inspired you to open a store?

In 2015 I started a Facebook group called Naturellement Belle in sxm, because there were many people that I would meet, who were interested in tips and ideas as how to care for their hair the best way possible. I consulted and gave advice on hair care and the interest people showed grew. I then contacted Initiative Saint Martin and I also did a survey. The purpose behind the survey was to get a general view of what people were interested in. I received lots of responses to the Survey and they were very positive. This resulted in the decision to open my own store.

What do you like about having your own business?

Being able to determine my own working hours, allows me to spend more time with my family when I want to.

What are some of the challenges that you’ve encountered?

There can be many challenges. An example of such is that there are days you may not earn the amount of money you would have liked to. However, there are other times that make up for the previous days that you earned less.

What do you have planned for 2017 and what are your future goals?

There will be new services offered in my store, such as treating hair, styling hair, new styles of African print clothing, jewellery, and hair care products. I also plan to organize more Workshops.

One of my future goals is to host a huge natural hair event with the association that I created last year and is also a facebook group called "Naturellement Belle in sxm"

What would be your message to anyone who would like to open their own store?

Keep your eyes on your goal and stay focused. You might encounter others who have the same business idea as you do, instead of focusing on competing, look at how you can collaborate with one another. Anytime someone tries to discourage you, keep going towards your dreams.

If someone wants information on your services, how can they contact you?

They can visit my Facebook page Glamorous Hairtopia for more information and contact me via the page or visit my store in Marigot.

Where would you spend your dream holiday?

I would like to travel to Italy, Germany and the African continent, I would love to experience what each of them has to offer.

What are your pet peeves?

I really don’t like to hear the sound of persons dragging their feet while walking.

What’s your favourite quote?

Love your hair and your hair will love you back.

What kind of music do you like to listen to?

I love to listen soul, soft Rnb music from artist such as Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Brian McKnight.

If you could ask any three persons (dead or alive) to a dinner party who would they be and what would you cook for them?

I would invite my Husband my Mother and Ms. Jenell B Stewart (the natural hair guru that I admire).The meal which would be prepared would consist of Lasanga, Garlic bread and Plantain. To top it all off, Caramel ice cream would be served for dessert.

David Beffort is the brainchild behind the recently-launched Friendly Flip Flops, the footwear that keeps a foot on each side of the island. The flip flops represent this lovely dual nation island and are distinctly designed with the left side being in the colours of the Dutch St. Maarten Flag and the right side in the colours of the French St. Martin flag.

The unique footwear and souvenir items were originally introduced at the St. Martin/St. Maarten Day ceremonies in French Quarter on November 11, 2016, and were transformed into reality last week when launched. Part proceeds from the footwear sales will go to associations working on behalf of the island’s youth under the campaign “Walking Forward Together.”

The flip flops are all the rage with the two airports on the island agreeing to create displays of the big flip flops, while French St. Martin Tourism Office plans to promote them on their travels to trade shows. Also, some 700 taxis will have a miniature pair of flip flops to hang from their rear view mirrors.

Who is David Beffort?

I am a creative and passionate person who loves life and is very curious. I am very curious about life. I think I look at life through the same eyes that children do. I don’t see labels and limits.

Education?

I did sports and study school. In the mornings, I attended regular school classes and then trained for dance – modern jazz and ballet – in the afternoons. I finished school with a letter of recommendation to attend Claude Bessy Opéra de Paris, which is France’s national secondary school. I obtained a Baccalaureate Mention – Assez-Bien.

How did you end up on this beautiful island?

I am originally from Chevreuse in Paris, France. My mother sent me here to St. Maarten to heal and live with my godfather after I was involved in a serious car accident. Dance was finished for me due to the accident. I was 19 when I came here in 1993. I didn't know what to expect. I do know, however, that within five minutes of stepping outside of the airport, that not only would I be healed, but that I was at home. The energy and spirit of St. Maarten captivated me immediately, as did its incredible beauty. But it was the people most of all who made me fall in love. This cosmopolitan melting pot effortlessly sustains people from different cultures, different religions and different backgrounds – all under the maternal watchfulness of the Caribbean. The community embraced me and I quickly came to realise why St. Maarten is called “The Friendly Island”. You have to look no further than the story of the Treaty of Concordia and the commitment of the French and Dutch to peacefully co-exist in order to capture the essence of the island.

What inspired the idea for The Friendly Flip Flop?

I realised how powerful it was to be able to stand on the border with a foot in both countries.

What is the concept behind Friendly Flip Flops?

It signifies walking forward together and is part of a fundraising initiative to benefit our youth. Everyone can support us by just liking us on Facebook_Walking Forward Together. Our campaign is: “Like us is a donation.”

Why should every resident and visitor to St. Maarten own a pair of Friendly Flip Flops?

They need flip flops. We all need flip flops; so it’s better to buy something that is a great souvenir and at the same time useful to the community. A pair of Friendly Flip Flops costs US $20 or €20 and is available in many stores and boutiques on both sides of the island. The sale points will be listed on our Facebook_Walking Forward Together.

What would you say to encourage youths with ideas like yours to pursue them?

I would encourage them to believe in themselves and to always persevere. I would have stopped doing so many things had I not stuck with them. Stay true to your dreams even if you are alone.

What else do you do?

I am an international marketing consultant.

Tell us something about yourself that no one else knows?

My friends call me Davidou.

Pet peeve and why?

Bad wine – Damn it!

Biggest fear?

That I might not be living life to its fullest.

Favourite quote?

Albert Einstein: “There are not great discoveries and advances, as long as there is an unhappy child on earth.”

Role models?

Everybody.

What’s your favourite type of music?

I like many different kinds of music such as Jazz, Motown and Classical, but if I had to take one CD with me to a desert island, it would definitely be reggae.

If you could ask any three persons (dead or alive) to a dinner party, who would they be and what would you serve?

I would invite Prince, Bob Marley and Michael Jackson. They have influenced anyone else I would have invited. I would ask them to take a vote and then I would prepare and serve whatever they came up with.

Ajay Rawtani, who goes by the deejay name Ajay Raw, will be heating things up at Big Fish Restaurant as he helps patrons to ring in 2017 this New Year’s Eve. Rawtani tells us more about himself and what patrons can expect from him on NYE.

Who is Ajay Rawtani?

I am someone who cannot be labelled. You might not see me coming, but when I do, I am a force to be reckoned with. I am a loyal, passionate, dedicated, patient, creative and kind person. While I am somewhat shy; I can adapt to different social settings and I’m also outgoing, but a homebody at the same time. Music is my heart; family is my soul.

Place of birth?

I was born in Pune, India, but I grew up in St. Maarten since I was six. I lived in the states for more than eight years and returned to St. Maarten in 2003. When someone asks, “Where you from?” I always answer, “I from here.”

Education?

I graduated from Stetson University in Deland, Florida. I majored in Computer Science with a minor in Business Management. My best friend, Ryan Gumbs, introduced me to computers early in my high school days. From then I knew that IT was something I wanted to do as a career.

How did you end up as a deejay?

Deejaying stemmed from the first time I ever walked into a nightclub. Back then, it was Studio 7. There was something about the sound, lighting and people letting themselves go dancing the night away that mesmerized me. The DJ was at the centre of it all. He took everyone on a journey for that night; without him, there was no party. Seemed like a pretty cool gig to me.

What sets you apart from other deejays?

I guess what sets most DJs apart is the music they choose to play. I personally do not care for pop music; I don't like to play it. I love being surprised by a chunky track that I have never heard before that just makes me move. Too often you go to a club and hear the same songs night after night after night. This is not me.

What is it about deejaying that you like?

Deejaying and my music release you from the stresses of everyday life; it’s exhilarating. I like that feeling that you get when you have the floor gyrating to your grooves or when someone comes up to you and says, “Dude, you rocked my night!”

How do you think you contribute to a better society as a deejay?

People go out to listen to music for different reasons. But when they enjoy the music, it moves them and takes them to a happy place. Getting people to a happy place – be it just by the bar or going crazy on the dance floor – as long as it moves you; I think it contributes to a better society.

What are some of the challenges you encounter?

The biggest challenge is club owners or managers, who sometimes want to dictate what you do or what you play. This gets in the way of creativity.

Who are your all-time favourite artistes?

Sasha and Digweed, Paul Oakenfold, Erick Morillo and Chus and Ceballos.

What do you like best about your job?

What I like about it is that this isn't a job for me. I can’t imagine doing this more than once a month. The late nights take a toll on you in many ways. My job is IT and management – deejaying is just my fun.

What can Big Fish patrons expect from your New Year’s Eve performance?

I just recently started having dinner at Big Fish and the owners and chef are great, and I love the venue itself. It’s got this Bagatelle (St. Barths and NY) feel to it and that super club vibe that is just screaming for a party. So I'm planning to bring it. The music will be that deep, chocolaty, funky, tribal house that will progress as the night does. I’ll be on from 9:00 to 2:00am.

Why should people choose your NYE performance over others’?

For me, NYE has always been about a fabulous big night doing something different than what I do the rest of the year. Why would you want to ring in the New Year at the same place you end up every weekend? This is why I am looking forward to Big Fish. Change!

If you could meet any deejay in the world, who would you want to meet and why?

I think it would be Erick Morillo. This guy puts on a hell of a show when he deejays and you can't help but rock out to his tribal funky grooves. He keeps the dance floor packed.

What message do you have for youngsters who want to follow in your footsteps?

Study; get a degree, get job, then have fun deejaying. Deejaying can be very positive, but there are negatives like drugs and alcohol all around the scene. You need to be level-headed and not lose yourself in this industry. Be strong and just say no.

What else are you involved in?

Besides my IT career, I am on the esteemed boards of St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Social Economic Council SER. Both boards are active in shaping and advising on legislation put forth by government. St Maarten is in an economic slump and both organisations are now more important than ever and I do hope that government taps into these resources. The experience and expertise of the respective board members are very valuable.

Do you have any (other) special talents?

I am a major foodie. I love my mouth. I have been inspired by my mother, my aunt and many other tremendous chefs over the years to cook myself. I would like to think I can bang out some great meals. I have a thing for photography too.

Wine or beer?

Definitely wine. I love a good Bordeaux or Margaux. These days I love whites – Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, New Zealand Savignon Blacs.

Dream holiday venue?

London is one of my favourite cities, but anywhere in Europe really. I love the history, culture and the food.

Pet peeve?

Most drivers on St. Maarten roads, especially the ones who drive 10 miles per hour or those who rubber neck and slow traffic when there’s an accident.

Favourite quote?

Never marry someone you can live with; marry someone you can never live without.

If you could ask any three persons (dead or alive) to a dinner party, who would they be and what would you serve them?

Ajeet Nandwani, Vicky Chugani and Bob Marley – all taken from us way before their time. We would start with oysters and champagne, salmon carpaccio, then a juicy medium rare rib-eye steak with truffle mashed potatoes and a blue cheese and arugula salad then end with a grand marnier soufflé.

Paula Gordon is one of the persons coordinating GEBE’s Christmas Village on Walter Nisbeth Road. She tells us more about herself and the work that goes into such an event in this week’s Hot Seat.

Tell us about yourself.

I’m 40 years old. I was born in St. Kitts. I’ve learned so much from my time here on earth that I feel the need to always give back. I’m a super busy person, but I try to balance my life. I play volleyball and I love sports. I drink way too much Coca Cola, but I’m trying to stop. I have a beautiful18-year-old daughter, Anandah Brandy. My proudest moments were my daughter’s birth, being crowned Miss Mature in 2013, graduating from University of St. Martin (USM) and University of Curacao, joining the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise and joining St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation.

How would you describe yourself?

I’m an energetic, full of life, no-nonsense type of person. I like to work with the youth, which I’ve been doing all my life. I really love pageantry, cooking and experimenting with different foods. I research recipes and cook all the time. I recently got my diploma in sewing and I sew at home when I have time. My job keeps me very busy.

Education?

I attended Basterre Primary Girls School in St. Kitts; St. Maarten Academy; Evans High School in Orlando, Florida, where I obtained my high school diploma; USM, where I obtained my AA Degree in Business Management; University of Curaçao, where I obtained a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.

How did you end up in beautiful St. Maarten?

My mom moved to St. Maarten in 1979 to work. I lived in St. Kitts for a few years with my aunt. During my younger years, I attended school at the old Grand Case Police Station and went back to St. Kitts for three years until I officially moved to St. Maarten in 1989.

How did you end up at GEBE?

In 2007, I applied for the position of assistant secretary to the then Managing Director William Brooks (may he rest in peace). I was hired on August 13, 2007. I’m now the Corporate Communications Officer and I’ve been in this function for the past three years.

What do you like about your current job?

It’s a very intense position and I am constantly challenged. Every day is a learning experience, which is the best part.

How did you end up on the planning team for GEBE’s Christmas village?

As secretary for GEBE’s Social Club, our president Jewel Daal pulled me into it as we’ve worked on many projects together.

What’s the purpose of the Christmas village?

The purpose of the village is to bring life to the Philipsburg area and to have families, friends and visitors enjoy Christmas in a different way. I’m the assistant president of the Social Club.

What sort of planning goes into such a major event?

It takes many long hours of actual planning. We’ve had to pull in the technical guys from the distribution department and get their expertise. GEBE is full of talented people, so we made contact with everyone we knew would play a major role. Of course, everyone has different ideas, but after several meetings, we came up with a plan, which we put on paper and then invited other sub-committee members. It took a lot of sleepless nights to actually get the village up and running.

Challenges?

Trying to keep it a secret until it was time to be revealed.

What would you say to encourage the public to come out to attend the Village?

Come out and enjoy the amazing days of festivities. This is for the community of St. Maarten. Everyone should attend because this village was built and created by the staff of GEBE with love.

How do you think this event will help spread Christmas cheer?

For the opening night, which was December 11, we invited 25 seniors who were each presented with a food basket – an event we do yearly. If you were at that event, you could feel the joy, love and Christmas spirit in the air.

What do you do outside of working at GEBE?

I play volleyball, sew, volunteer, chaperone and mentor young ladies, go to the beach and explore St. Maarten; and when I can find some time for me, I love being at home with my daughter watching TV.

Future plans?

Personally, I want to expand my chaperoning business and help to take pageantry to a whole new level. I can’t wait for the day to turn the keys to my own home, which is in process. Professionally, I want to get my MA in Communications and open my own business.

What is your advice for youths?

Life is full of surprises, nothing should be regretted. Learn from your mistakes and move on. Live, laugh and love. Don’t take things too personally. Make sure you have plan A, and if that doesn’t work out, remember there are more letters in the alphabet.

Tell us something about yourself that no one else knows.

I don’t watch scary movies at night or I won’t be able to sleep.

Pet peeve?

When people say they will do something and you expect them to do it and they don’t. That irks me because I’m very structured and organised. As busy as I am, I know what I will do this afternoon and tomorrow at any time.

Biggest fear?

I have a fear of being hit by a big truck.

Favourite quote?

The next time you think you’re perfect, try walking on water.

Role models?

My mother Juliette Caines, my sister Nadia Dormoy and Josianne Fleming- Artsen, my former USM boss – these are all strong, beautiful women, who have taught me to be the person I am today.

Special talents?

I wish I could say that I have a great voice, but I would be lying. But I’m a mean cook. I can throw down in the kitchen. I learned cooking from my aunt at a very young age.

Dream holiday venue?

Paris the city of love, and Dubai.

What would a perfect romantic evening be for you?

I'm a simple girl and everything is a moment for me. I'm a hopeless romantic, so something very simple, such as a collection of the ultimate love songs; walking on the beach and holding hands of course – if the moon is out, even better; watching a romantic comedy; having a drink and closing down the restaurant with silly conversations… these are romantic to me.

If stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you need?

If that deserted island has power and water; then my TV, my loving partner and a boat so we could leave whenever we desire.

What’s your favourite type of music; what artistes do you listen to?

My favourite type of music is soca, St. Kitts Pep riddim and R&B; and my favourite artistes are Mariah Carey, Luther van Dros, Salt and Pepa, Tupac, KC and JoJo, Machel Montano and my list would not be complete if Sugar Band from SBK wasn’t on.

If you could ask any three persons (dead or alive) to a dinner party, who would they be and what would you cook for them?

I would invite Chance and Miracle Cranstoun-Gordon and Randolph Corachi Martinus. I would cook a combination of meals for them starting off with my parmesan garlic chicken wings as appetizer, my specialty broccoli casserole, coconut rice and peas, with my Thai coconut curry chicken and shrimps, followed by my delicious upside-down pineapple cake topped with vanilla ice cream.

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