Anguilla presents its second annual Anguilla Culinary Experience. This epicurean festival brings together talented chefs from Anguilla and around the world with food-loving guests at Anguilla’s world-class resorts, luxury villas and renowned restaurants.
According to the Co-founder of ACE, Mrs. Wendy Freeman, owner of Villa Alegria Anguilla and member of the development team for Tranquility Beach Anguilla,
“Last year’s Anguilla Culinary Experience was a great success. It was a joy to share Anguilla’s history, hospitality and incredible cuisine with new visitors and long-time island fans, while also raising funds to support the island’s next generation of chefs.”
This year, on Wednesday, May 3rd, ACE engaged celebrity Chef David Waltuck to deliver an inspiring lecture about his longstanding experience in culinary arts to Anguilla’s Culinary/Hospitality students and young epicurean professionals. Chef Waltuck is a four-time James Beard Award winner who has worked diligently for 45 successful years in the food and beverage industry in New York.
Now, as an executive Chef Consultant, Chef Waltuck engages himself in imparting over four decades of his culinary experience as a lead instructor for First Course New York, a City-funded program that provides training and placement for students who do not have the financial means to pay for culinary school.
Chef Waltuck stated that he started attending culinary school in 1975, but after a couple years he dropped out for he thought he had learned enough. He admitted that he did not have a whole lot of training or experience, but the vast amount of passion that he had for the art enable him to persevere and succeed in a rewarding career.
“I started cooking back in the seventies,” he said. “It was a time when restaurants and culinary arts were quite different from today. There was no internet, regular people did not even have computers, and there were no celebrity chef shows on television. It was a different world.”
He reflected: “I sought to pursue my dream in cooking as a chef. There were far fewer paths to attaining a career in the culinary field than there is today. I did end up going to a culinary school, in Upstate New York.”
“I had learnt a lot, but at a certain point I decided that I had learnt enough, and I dropped out half way through the programme,” he admitted. “At that point, one of my acquaintances offered me a job as a sous chef in a small French restaurant.”
He related that working in the French restaurant was really inspiring to him. He remarked that it was an exciting time when French chefs were developing their own cooking styles, moving away from the classic kind of dishes.
“I experimented with this kind of cooking at home,” Chef Waltuck noted. “I would host elaborate dinner parties, and my friends encouraged me to open up my own restaurant. Usually, that is a rather bad piece of advice because a good home cook is not necessarily a professional cook. But I considered myself as a professional cook with some degree of training, so I decided to take on the venture in opening my own restaurant.”
It was in the Fall of 1976, when he was 24 years old, that Chef Waltuck and his wife opened a small thirty-seat restaurant in downtown Manhattan, named Chanterelle. He said that they did not have any way of advertising or promoting themselves in the business, because their budget was rather slim.
However, he said that in December of that year they got a review in the New Yorker magazine and the restaurant critic complimented their business in a great way. “Through that review,” he said, “we began to get super busy, and after a few years we got a four-star review in The New York Times, which was a huge deal because that is their highest grade. We later attained yet another four-star review from The New York Times, as well accolades and awards from the James Beard Foundation.”
“We had opened our restaurant on a shoe string budget,” he noted. Notwithstanding, he encouraged those culinary enthusiasts in the room to maintain their passion for the art of fine food. “I was passionate about what I was doing,” he said, “and I just wanted to make enough money so that I could keep on doing what love to do – to cook and feed people.”
Janine was delighted to host Chef Waltuck, and she expressed her gratitude to him for motivating Anguilla’s young culinary artists. “Thank you for your genuine delivery,” she observed. “You made an authentic presentation, and we appreciate all that you have shared with us.” She also thanked Aurora Anguilla Resort for its support and sponsorship for the 2023 ACE events.
With reference to Chef Waltuck’s motivational lecture, she stated: Over 40 young people from various educational institutes, restaurants and hotels were in attendance today to be motivated by this model chef’s experience. Aurora is the lead hotel sponsor of ACE this year and also graciously hosted this event. Much thanks to Aurora.”
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