Nestled in the Caribbean Sea, the island country of Curaçao is the idyllic location of the 2,000-acre Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort. While the white sands, colorful architecture and clear blue waters attract people from all over the world, it’s the impressive cuisine that keeps them coming back.
A flavorful fusion of the Netherlands and Indonesia, Curaçaoan gastronomy is an innovative mix of traditional fare and exotic island inspirations. With four different restaurant experiences, the Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort was designed to showcase every facet of the island’s culinary history.
The face behind the resort’s successful dining scene is Director of Food & Beverage, Steve Vermote. We were lucky enough to sit down with Steve and pick his brain about the inner workings of some of Curaçao’s top restaurants.
How did you begin your career in the Food & Beverage industry?
It all started when I was in Egypt working as a bar manager for a Belgian hotel chain. While I was there, I worked my way up through the ranks until I was managing a variety of bars across multiple hotels. Unfortunately, due to the geopolitical unrest in Egypt, I decided my next step would be to move to Dubai, where I spent some years as an F&B Manager. That experience allowed me to travel and work throughout Asia – the Maldives, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand – an amazing experience. After Asia, I relocated to the Caribbean and worked at the Sandals Resort in Jamaica, and now I’m in Curaçao!
Sounds like a whirlwind adventure! How did you decide to join the Santa Barbara team?
A recruiter reached out to me about the Director of Food & Beverage position at the resort. They needed someone with multiple language skills, so it was a perfect fit.
What languages do you speak?
I speak fluent French, German, Dutch and English, and some basic Arabic from my time in the Middle East.
What’s your main role as Director of Food & Beverage for the resort?
My main role is leading the resort’s team of culinary and service experts and making sure they provide our guests with a true 5-star experience. I also run and oversee all operations that deal with Food & Beverage for the resort. That includes events, restaurants, in-room dining, the minibar, and off-site catering.
What do you enjoy most about being the Director of Food & Beverage for Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort?
Creativity. I love that I can be creative every day while working with my team to give our guests the best service possible. By being close with my team, I can understand the challenges they experience and come up with solutions. I also enjoy thinking about new menus and concepts that we can use in our restaurants.
What types of Food & Beverage concepts are there at the resort?
Our fine dining restaurant is Shore Restaurant, which features authentic Caribbean cuisine. We recently just added Jun’s Sushi to Shore, which makes fresh sushi rolls. Medi Restaurant features Mediterranean style cuisine and Splash is our poolside grill and bar.
What traditional Curaçaoan dishes can you find at Santa Barbara’s restaurants?
Many of our chefs are from Curaçao, so we constantly utilize their local knowledge in creating new dishes. One of our chefs makes a plate with goat or beef meat called Stoba, which is a crowd favorite, and at Medi Restaurant we serve a fried fish dish with funchi that we always recommend.
What are your favorite dishes and drinks that you would recommend to your own family and friends staying at Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort?
We just added a new selection of gin to our cocktail menu at Shore Restaurant, so I would recommend one of our specialty gin-tonics. The Ceviche at Shore is something I find myself craving all the time, and we always get great comments about it from the guests. I’d say it’s the best Ceviche in Curacao! For the entrée, it’s a tie between the Beef Tenderloin at Shore and the Moroccan Tagine at Medi. Desserts here change every day, and our pastry chefs always have something new and delicious, so you can’t go wrong there.
Can you reveal some of the future plans for Food & Beverage at the resort?
We’re always looking for ways to introduce new food concepts into our existing restaurants, and we’re currently in the midst of rolling out our new menus for Splash and Medi!
Thanks to Steve for giving us a glimpse into Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort’s incredible world of dining! If you’re looking for a Caribbean vacation, we highly recommend reserving a spot at the resort – you won’t regret it!