With a master’s degree in culinary arts from one of the top culinary schools in his native Germany, Chef Carsten Stelzer is a classically trained chef by every sense of the term. But his approach to cooking is much more a reflection of his travels around the world than his time in culinary school. It was those travels that influenced him to develop his trademark style of ‘Caribbean Fusion’ cooking.
So how does a kid from North Bremen, Germany wind up in the Bahamas and become a superstar, Caribbean chef? As with many top chefs, Chef Carsten’s culinary flame started burning at a young age – in his mother’s kitchen. From there, he gained his first restaurant experience at the tender age of 13.
Developing His Signature Style Abroad
After finishing culinary school and working in Germany for a few years, Chef Carsten left his homeland in 1986 and became a culinary globetrotter of sorts – island hopping throughout the Caribbean.
In his years away from Germany, Chef Carsten developed an affinity for the Caribbean. When asked what it is about the Caribbean that he loves so much, he said, “It’s the weather that keeps me coming back. Plus, the culture and infusion of Caribbean flavors in the islands’ food.”
Chef Carsten’s culinary tour includes stops in Antigua, Curaçao, the Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Bermuda and even Egypt, where he worked for four years.
Along the way, he learned about traditional Caribbean flavors and recipes. His time in Trinidad and Tobago, islands with strong culinary influences from Africa, Asia and the Middle East, was especially influential in his cooking style. “There are a lot of different seasonings in Trinidad. I learned to blend seasonings and flavors there.”
The four years he spent in Bermuda also played a pivotal role in his development as a chef. While there, he worked for a few top restaurants and hotels – most notably ‘Port O’ Call,’ a restaurant widely regarded as one of the best in Bermuda and ‘Ariel Sands,’ a top hotel that is partially owned by actor Michael Douglas. Both places were smaller, fine dining restaurants that allowed Chef Carsten to master the art of gourmet cooking.
Making His Mark In The Bahamas
Resorts World Bimini is Chef Carsten’s first stop in the beautiful islands of the Bahamas. After working in several smaller restaurant environments, he has been pleasantly surprised with the resources he has to work with at Resorts World Bimini. “The kitchen crew is great and the pastry chef is really talented. I also really like the kitchen facilities – the set-up is great. I just really like the overall environment.”
Chef Carsten is now working to make his mark on the resort’s overall culinary program. “Right now, I’m working on cost control and creating a new menu. I’m making it different – more infusion foods.”
Planning The New Menu
Chef Carsten is revolutionizing the dishes at Resorts World Bimini, and they’re bound to be far from ordinary. He shared that some of his favorite food fusions are Asian and Mediterranean, as well as Caribbean and Mediterranean. “Those flavors are all very unique and they mix well together.”
He gave us a sneak peek into some menu items he’s currently working on, one being pork chops with a Caribbean spin. It will be spiced with curry, cumin and other spices popular in the Caribbean, and paired with traditional Caribbean starches. One of the most surprising dishes you might see on his menu? A Caribbean spiced lamb chop with a chocolate sauce. Somehow, with ingredients you never thought should be on the same plate, he makes it work.
Other dishes he said to look out for are a pan-seared snapper with a lobster ragu, as well as soups, lots of different soups – which he considers his specialty.
Have special dietary needs? Chef Carsten has put a lot of thought into his vegetarian and vegan menu. “Me or my staff will meet with vegetarian and vegan guests when they arrive, as well as those with allergies, and personalize their dining options to make sure they feel taken care of.”
Chef Carsten’s main goal as the new executive chef at Resorts World Bimini is to give guests a personalized dining experience. His unique style of ‘Caribbean Fusion’ cooking, which borrows flavors from his travels around the world, will ensure that all guests will leave with a satisfied palate, having eaten dishes that are as bold, exotic and memorable as their vacation in Bimini.