Samuel Goldwyn once said, “The road to success is always under construction,” and so it is for the kitchens at the Spanish Court Hotel. This is the view of Executive Chef Anthony Mathews, also food and beverage director at the hotel, as he shared his vision for the two-year-old property with the Jamaica Observer's Food Awards judges.
Chef Mathews' passion for food began during his frequent trips with his mother to the Reading Market in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA), where he was exposed to the colours of a variety of fruits, vegetables and other provisions, as well as the flavours of a variety of dishes. These experiences planted the seeds of his career that began to grow and flourish when he moved to the United Kingdom to finish school. Working with master chefs like Remy Joly at establishments such as Myalacarte and Paul Broderton at the London Street Brasserie allowed Mathews to develop his skills. Returning to Jamaica in 2010, he worked at Secrets Resorts & Spas, Montego Bay, where he helped organise and establish their kitchens before moving to the Spanish Court Hotel. Chef Matthews, speaking to the judges, explained that as a new property trying to break into the market, the Spanish Court has to be creative. Innovations thus far have included changing the menu, adjusting the wine lists, and extending the physical (banquet) space that exists on the property.
Chef Mathews noted that when he began working at the Spanish Court, a lunchtime crowd was non-existent, because it seemed as if the public was intimidated and thought that the hotel was out of its price range. In order to address this issue he implemented two-and three-course lunch menus. This had two results: more persons came in for lunch and were, therefore, introduced to the dinner menu; and at the same time they discovered that the Spanish Court was affordable.
The judges made reference to the café at the hotel which, in addition to boasting excellent sweet treats, affords guests the option of savouries as well as al fresco dining.
Chef Mathews' dream is to make the Spanish Court Hotel a viable option for dining out and to be the talk of the town for its food and service. He credits the staff with being focused and customer servicedriven, which he says are critical to the success of this dream.