While sitting on the patio of the Beach Club at The Landings St. Lucia, and looking out onto the island’s calming azure waters, it’s only natural that the food you’re about to tuck into is freshly made with many ingredients straight from a local farm. Chef Richard Tonks, a native of England who began manning the kitchen here this year, has introduced guests to a new level of sustainable Caribbean-inspired cooking. Often, one can find Chef Tonks navigating the island’s lush, jungle-like farms, hand-picking chili peppers and cashew apples to bring back to the resort for his curious guests.
One of those scenic farms is Juliana’s, run by the affable Juliana Aurelien. The 65-acre farm flaunts a babbling stream-which has recently been certified for bottling water-a freshwater prawn pond, and soon, a nature trail that will pay homage to a sustainable swath of forest. The farm is also home to a number of vibrant fruits and vegetables stretching beyond the typical Caribbean staples of banana, mango, and coconut. Here, Chef Tonks has his pick of produce, from the familiar-pineapple bursting with sweet juice and apricots the size of grapefruits-to the unusual-pear-shaped wax apples and pulpy cacao.
“For a chef, it’s great to be able to get out and into the open. Everything is so fresh and so abundant. It’s like when I was younger and only ate what was in season,” he explains. This fall, Chef Tonks is especially looking forward to getting his hands on local avocado, citrus, and plums.
In addition to experiencing Chef Tonks’ creations at the table, guests of The Landings are also invited to visit Juliana (or another local farm owner) and get their hands dirty at the farm through RockResorts’ (the umbrella company that owns the resort) voluntourism program called “Give & Getaway.” Afterwards, relax those sore muscles with a stop off at The Landings’ spa for a Soufriere & Lime, a heavenly mud wrap and massage combo. www.landings.rockresorts.com
Pineapple Carpaccio Laced with Spiced Rum and Lemongrass Syrup
Courtesy of Chef Richard Tonks, The Landings, a RockResort
2 pineapples, peeled and cored
1 whole nutmeg, freshly grated
2 pints of simple syrup (1 part sugar to 1 part water)
2 vanilla beans
1 hot pepper
2 tbs. sliced fresh ginger
2 sprigs crushed lemongrass
2 pints water
2 cups spiced St. Lucian rum
The juice of 6 limes
Peel the pineapple and de-core. Slice lengthwise on the slice as finely as possible, then chill in the refrigerator overnight. Combine the remainder of ingredients. Chill in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day construct the pineapple as you desire. Dress with rum. Add a scoop of flavored sorbet, if desired. Dress with a sprig of mint.