Do you want to know more about the chefs in Suriname? Every week we will try to interview one of the chefs. 

So… who’s the chef?

Patrick Woei (l)

Who:     Patrick Woei  
What:    Chef | Restaurant Owner
Where:  Spice Quest, Dr. J. F. Nassylaan #107

1.     Where did you learn how to cook?
It started at a young age when out of necessity, I had to assemble lunch when we would come home from school, but mom was still at the office. She would prepare everything washed and cut and I had to finish off the dishes for lunch.

2.     How many years have you been cooking?
I started at home before 12, and during the holidays I would spent my time at Torarica, first in the Pastry section, then it the other kitchens until I finished High School and moved on to a professional training in New York in 1990.

3.     With which ingredient to you prefer to work with?
I love Eggplant, it is one of the most versatile ingredients around, but I also enjoy good mushrooms and I get very excited when there is fresh seafood around.

4.     What is your favorite dish to prepare and why?
Too many to mention, but an example would be Pan Grilled Asparagus with Sea Salt.

5.     What is your favorite dish to eat?
Depends on the mood and the company, but when alone I love Cantonese Clay Pot Rice with Chinese Sausage

6.     What do you think of our Surinamese cuisine?
Heavily Influenced by our Cultural, Historical Heritage and a lack of interest in Refinement (probably because the Dutch are Historically not well known for natural tradition in a Quest for enjoying the finer things in life)

7.     What could be better?
Open our attitudes and change from “wat de boer niet kent…” into “I would like to give it a try, at least after trying I will know if I like it or not” and we should get away from all the imported ingredients and appreciate better what possibilities we have around us, for example why should we eat strawberry jam when we have the possibility of having a far better in flavor and aroma Guava Jam.

8.     Is there a platform for chefs needed?
Of course, since the Suriname Chefs Association has been established you see how fast the new possibilities are embraced by especially the younger Chefs.  It opens possibilities to get out of our long isolations and traditions and will inspire creativity with a wider spectrum in experiencing gastronomy, not only in flavors, but also the presentation and ultimately the experience of a meal long to be remembered.

9.     Do you think the Surinamese cuisine is evolving?
Yes, look at the abundance of ingredients you can find now, this was not the case not so long ago in 2004 when Spice Quest opened for the first time, the dire situation for finding the ingredients was our inspiration for the name of the restaurant.

10.  What direction should we go with the Surinamese cuisine/kitchen?
I would like not only in the culinary field but overall for Surinamese people to strive for higher goals in life, work, society and politics with a clear philosophy for not less than an Over and Beyond Attitude!  

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