Changing the Game: Fairmont Chef Jaelen Steede

We had the pleasure of chatting with Chef Jaelen Steede, an apprentice at the Fairmont Southampton Princess at The Waterlot Inn. A Bermudian hospitality role model, 20 year old Chef Jaelen aspires to change the food scene in Bermuda, one step at a time. (Photos courtesy of Instagram)

 

PS: What is your story? What inspired you to become a chef?

JS: I have to give it to my granny and my mother. There are pictures of me as a child with cake batter all over my face! My granny used to bake and my mother loved cooking, so I used to give them the seal of approval. I am a family oriented person and food brings people together. That is what pushed me towards choosing a career in this industry. At Warwick Academy, I took a class called Food and Nutrition, which I though was the coolest thing! So after doing some research I realized that I can make a job out of it.

I got an apprenticeship with Collin Lloyd at Greg’s Steakhouse and I worked a whole summer there and I realized I really liked it. At 16, my dad sent my resume to Fairmont Southampton Princess and the executive chef was very impressed, ultimately giving me my first part-time job. From there I got my apprenticeship and I’ve been here for 5 years now. We cook a lot of Bermudian food and I realized that this is what Bermuda used to be. There aren’t very Bermudian chefs and we need to get back to that. 

PS: What struggles or challenges did you face along the way?

JS: Being 15 and getting a part-time job at Fairmont is unheard of. They usually go for college kids who know what they want to do with their lives. People always throw my age at me because I’m younger than the average person around here. I’ve learned to know what I’m talking about before I go against something. So that is my struggle – people looking at age instead of what I can do.

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PS: Who is your support system? Who has helped or inspired you to get where you are?

JS: My mom, dad, granny and sister. My dad is my biggest supporter. Anything I make, he will tell everything about it! My mother cooks gluten free and she is always pushing me to try new things. My granny is where it all started. She’s a wonderful person and she always has been. That’s what I learned from her – just how to show respect to other people and not saying no. My father always told me, “you never know when you’re going to need someone, so treat people kindly”. They are always in my corner.

Also, Chef Herbert Bascome inspires me. I want to be like him, Bermuda’s best, one day. He’s had a big influence on the community and he’s worked really hard for everything he has in life. Lastly, Chef Gordon Ramsay. I really admire his determination in taking himself from being a chef to a TV personality and businessman.

PS: Outside of cooking and being an excellent chef, tell us something that people don’t know about you!

JS: …I sing! And that is something that most people don’t know about me. I actually just started this summer. Mike Hinds, who plays at The Waterlot Inn weekly, invited me to sing with him one evening. The next thing I know, I’m a singing chef! So that’s my new brand (jokingly).

PS: Apart from you own kitchen, where are you favorite spots to eat on the island?

JS: I actually love Island Cuisine and Henry VIII. There I can find some good, home-style food. Not everyone wants or cares about a pretty plate with a bunch of extra stuff. That’s where I love to go.

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 PS: What are your plans for the future?

JS: I want to give back to Bermuda and promote Bermudians. We get a bad rep because of all the negativity going on. We aren’t all like that. I’ve been working since the age of 13 and never got caught up in foolishness. But I want to change Bermuda. My ultimate dream is to open up a practical arts school and cater to kids who aren’t strong academically. I never got straight A’s but was always good with my hands. So I want to give kids like me something else to do and think about. I also want to have my own restaurant. I’d like to start here and maybe branch out to other places. I want to change Bermuda’s food scene and get back to what we used to be. I want to give tourists the true Bermudian experience.

 

Follow Jaelen on Instagram @bermyfoodguyjae for more pictures of his mouthwatering, creative dishes.

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