After almost three years working for Michael in the Design District, Thomas Tennant set his compass southbound and landed himself a gig in the Cayman Islands. Heading up the kitchen at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink Grand Cayman, Thomas is responsible for menu creation; management of the kitchen staff; ordering; how dishes get plated; expediting dishes at the window; and leading pre-shift meetings. And if you want to know how committed he is to cultivating the Michael’s Genuine mission on-island… well… just ask Zelma-Lee Ebanks of Willie’s Fresh Fruit and Juices, Patrick Panton of East End Garden, and the rest of his local suppliers. Or check out his frequent MMSes, below!
Name: Thomas Maxwell Lord Tennant
Position: Chef de Cuisine of MGFD in Camana Bay, Grand Cayman
Childhood ambition: Tennis Superstar and Chef
First job: I worked to pay off my Tennis when I was 14 helping run the tennis pro shop and help with coaching. It eventually led to running the proshop with my younger brother a year later when i started driving. Took a second job in a hotel as a prep cook at 16.
I began at MGFD September 7th, 2007, because: my good friend and chef instructor from JWU took me there for dinner and told me that this was the place that should be working to get ahead in my career. Patricia Wilson was the chef who sent me to Jamaica for my internship that summer so I trusted her on the place i should work next. I came into Michaels, with my hair still is rope twists, had a phenominal dinner experience. Went up fearlessly, but still humbly, up to the kitchen door, asked to speak to Michael and requested an interview. Got the interview on a sunday, staged on a thursday on the pantry station, and finally got the call back from Simon (only after calling him back 3 times). The rest is a rollercoaster story of blood, sweat and tears to where I am now and where i want to be in this company.
Favorite dish at MGFD: I have my top five: (1)The duck confit with the amerini cherries and mustard greens, (2)burrata, (3) sweet and spicy pork belly, (4) pork chop, (5) burger with a pungent cheese and house smoked bacon.
Most popular food prepared in your home: gnocchi!!!! its traditional for all family celebrations
Wildest food ever eaten: Horse salami in switzerland, gator, rattlesnake, frog, ants, lamb testicles, beef heart, beef kidneys, pig intestines, pig head, lamb head, manish water (ask someone from Jamaica), bami (not the wildest but something i unexpectedly delighted to eat)
Favorite beverage at MGFD: bulleit proof manhatten, and the dram pear sidecar (cant quite remember the name but ask ryan, he will know)
Proudest moment: Becoming the sous chef and head chef for michael, i think next to college graduation that was really the next step of being proud of myself and others being proud for me.
Biggest challenge: Getting the earned respect of those i work with at michaels, and building confidence to collectively lead a successful kitchen.
Perfect day: double dip dive trip in cayman, a huge rum punch during the afternoon. Some sun, and a family style dinner party with my closest friends. Also a super busy night at work would do well, say 350 covers.
Ideal spot for your vacation home: Chur, Switzerland or somewhere in the caribbean in a really nice yacht to keep my home moving.
Indulgence: Really good bread and duckfat/ high quality butter
Inspirations: Any chef that is true to him/herself and their cooking. Its from those people that i find myself wanting to be better and be pushed. I also read a lot of ralph mareston.
My life: Really… its hard to put this in few words. I describe it as selectively random. i like to find opportune moments and decide to take them or leave them alone. I went from playing tennis, to cooking at 16. Traveling to a state that the joke of it was Dela-Where? Having my brother join me there for the same hotel/restaurant degree. Tennis team for 6 months until i got to injured to play. Had my training with baking and pastry. Went to switzerland for more hotel and kitchen school. Came back to miami, studied at JWU, met a lot of very cool people, worked 3 jobs. Went to jamaica to work at Couple resort in Negril. Partied at ATI week, Jamaica’s independance celerations. Came to work at Michaels. Worked the pantry station for about a year, and worked my way up. Left a very wonderful girlfriend that I am still on very good terms with, to come to Grand Cayman. Im close to family. I have a ton of stories from childhood and parties, most of which i surprisingly can remember. Those i cannot remember, well they must have been fun times. I live for the moment, i live to serve people. I look forward to what the future has for me and more importantly, how i react when it comes my way.