We recently caught up with Executive Chef Ronald Smith to hear about his unique path to the culinary world. Below he shares the moment he knew he wanted to become a chef, the top dishes you just can’t miss in the Caribbean and much more.
What made you want to become a chef?
As a youngster, I was always in the kitchen with my grandmother. During school tours, I remember going to a certain local hotel and seeing these beautiful displays of vegetable, fruit and ice sculptures – that’s when I realized it’s much more than cooking in the heat, there’s an art to it. At that moment, I said to myself – this is what I really want to do.
What’s your greatest source of inspiration?
Working with chefs from all over the world. I learn from the techniques of every chef I work with. It’s pushed me to develop my culinary knowledge – for example, how to present, taste and combine flavors, and how to incorporate different local ingredients in interesting ways.
What are your favorite Caribbean dishes on board?
I have so many. To begin with, rice and beans, and jerk chicken – which are all served in the Terrace Café. I also really love the Cuban-Style chicken casserole in tomato sauce, also available at Terrace Café.
Where do you recommend guests travel in the Caribbean for unique culinary culture?
Of course I will tell you to go to Jamaica! Not only for the food, but the music and natural beauty as well. Islands in the Bahamas are great for snorkeling, scuba diving and the beautiful views – there are some great dishes to try too, if you know what to order.
What dishes do you recommend?
In Jamaica you must try the classic Ackee and Salt Fish. Brown Stew Oxtail and Goat Curry are few other musts for the more adventurous. In the Bahamas, for a taste of the local flavors order conch salad and Bahamian fish stew. Johnnycakes and baked crab are two other great dishes to sample in the Bahamas.
About Executive Chef Ronald Smith
Ronald’s hometown is Discovery Bay, Jamaica. Upon graduating high school, he began his culinary arts apprenticeship journey as a buffet decorator. Soon thereafter, Ronald attended the Culinary Arts Institute of Jamaica. He later worked at an array of hotels in Jamaica and won several Culinary Arts Carving competitions. Ronald started his career at sea in 1999 and joined Oceania Cruises In 2004. He began as Chef De Partie, and was eventually promoted to Executive Chef due to his desire to continually learn from other Executive and Master Chefs to improve his technique and skills. Ronald is very proud to a part of the Oceania Cruises culinary family, which is filled with so much passion and creativity, and considers it a great milestone in his career to be able to work with the best chefs in the industry.