Stephan Berrouet Durand got on the road to his culinary career in 1990, his senior year in high school when he worked for his cousin who owned a professional catering business. Continuing his passion for cooking, he started his own catering business while starting college and pursuing a degree in Hospitality Management. While continuing his studies, he spent a year in Haiti interning at one of the top hotels “El Rancho”. When he came back to the states, he decided to postpone his studies in Hospitality Management and decided to attend culinary school at Johnson & Wales one of the most recognized institutions in the industry. While attending Johnson & Wales University, Stephan received many awards and recognition as a young culinarian and was chosen to be part of the Taste of the NFL to support hunger in South Florida. Upon completing his degree at Johnson & Wales Miami campus, he moved to Omaha Nebraska to do his internship at the Double Tree Hotel and joined the American Culinary Federation chapter where he was featured as an up and coming young chef in the 1999 Discover American Cuisine.
Stephan continued to develop his skills after his internship working for Sodexho Marriot and Bakers Supermarket where he worked with the ACF chapter president in developing a new concept in offering fresh items created by chef’s in a supermarket setting. After a year living in Nebraska and getting married, he and his wife moved to Tampa, FL where he continued to sharpen his skills in the industry while finishing his second degree in Communication and Marketing. In 2001 while still in Tampa, Chef Stephan was invited by A.C.T.I.O.N Foundation at their event “Haiti: From a Legacy of Freedom to an Explosion of Culture” for the city of Miami to feature culinary delights from his home country Haiti. After Tampa, he and his family where moved to Ogden Utah through the United States Air Force, joined the officer’s club as the catering and special events chef.
A few months later being recognized for his talents, was called upon by the base General to become his personal chef for special events at his private home. A year later, Stephan was recommended to become the Air Force Executive Chef and Food and Beverage Director at a base in Fort Walton Beach Florida. While stationed there, Stephan has received multiple awards and recognitions including the coin for outstanding service by the Air Force top General and the Secretary of the Air Force. A year later after his son was born, he decided to move back to Utah to be with his family where he opened two café’s for the Air Force Military base and also became culinary trainer and instructor for the department of Food Services. In 2006 he opened his first restaurant “The Chronicle” for two young entertainment industry moguls and later that year met with Nadege Fleurimond of Fleurimond Catering and Young Culinary Masters, a non-for-profit foundation that teaches young kids to eat healthier through culinary classes. Stephan joined her team both as an instructor for the foundation but also as her Executive Chef for her catering business. They have worked on many great projects together including the Black Culinary Alliance Food & Wine event at Tavern on the Green and Dr. Oz annual fund raising Gala for Healthcorp . Since then, Chef Stephan continues to work on many special events with Fleurimond Catering. In December 2009, after a life changing operation, Chef Stephan decided to go back to his home country with the idea of creating the first Culinary Association in Haiti and a flagship chapter of the BCA. The idea came after meeting Chef Ron Duprat (Top Chef 6) a fellow Chef and Haitian countryman whom he got to cook with during a special visit to Haiti. The idea is to not only promote and create an atmosphere of friendship between Chefs in Haiti, but to promote the Culinary Arts and the profession.
Today Chef Stephan is spearheading the event Gout et Saveurs Lakay – Haiti Food & is President and founder of the “Haitian Culinary Alliance” , Co-Captain of Haiti’s National Culinary Team & co-chair for the Haitian chapter of St Barth Gout et Saveurs which is presided by top chef Jean-Luc Grabowski. In addition to all of these activities, Stephan is the Executive Chef for Le Plaza Hotel and the Special Event Chef for Parc Historique de la canne a sucre.
He made his first appearance in a published magazine called Magic Haiti as their featured Chef and appeared in a women’s magazine called “Sanctuary”.
He is continuing his journey by being a mentor and a trainer for a number of establishments in Haiti, consulting in all areas of the food and beverage industry.
Q&A With Chef Stephan
BS: At what age did you realize your passion for the culinary arts? Did your upbringing or culture have any impact on your decision to pursue that career?
Chef Stephan: I have always enjoyed cooking even as a kid, however it was never in my mind to become a Chef as this type of career was never part of my upbringing. Cooking is a domestic position. However as I left Haiti to continue my education, I was introduced to cooking at a professional level by my cousin who was a Chef. I worked with him a whole summer prior to entering college. Throughout college, I was the designated cook for all of my friends and I even started a small catering business. However, still as a career, I did not take that direction. It was later on after lingering through my first 3 years of college that I decided that I wanted to try my hands at cooking for real and went ahead and registered at Johnson & Wales University, one of the top schools in the country.
BS: What difficulties did you have to overcome when opening your own business? How did you market your brand?
Chef Stephan: Opening your own business takes knowledge, as does everything else if you want to be successful but it is also an experience in the school of hard knocks if you don’t have the proper guidance. You have to do research. What are the services you are going to offer? Who are going to be your customers? –Preparing a business plan. I learned to market my brand through Chamber of Commerces and associations.
BS: What are some of your specialty cuisines? What techniques or ingredients do you incorporate into preparation of those dishes?
Chef Stephan: My cuisine is influenced first and foremost by Latin America and the Caribbean since that is where I draw my roots. But cooking is a discovery; I read a lot of books so I take a little from everyone. My ingredients are first and foremost local and indigenous products from the Caribbean
BS: How have mentors helped shape your career? What benefits have you derived from mentoring others?
Chef Stephan: They have shaped me in so many ways. Mentoring others is probably the greatest gift you can give to someone as you are sharing knowledge. Giving back is important.
BS: What is the most unique or uncommon dish that you have created? What was the inspiration for that dish?
Chef Stephan: Well one of my favorite dishes that I have created, would have to be a snapper crusted with plantain chips.
BS: What effect did the earthquake in Haiti have upon your effort to establish the first Culinary Association in Haiti?
Chef Stephan: I have to say that it was positive. The Association came about from the creation and launch of the first Food and Wine Festival in Haiti. The event was a success, which actually made it easy to launch the Haitian Culinary Alliance. I am happy to say, it was a welcoming idea.
BS: If you could name one dish that best captures Haiti, what would it be?
Chef Stephan: It would be a dish made with Djondjon. It is a unique product indigenous only to Haiti. One of my favorite Chefs in Haiti prepared this dish at the festival and I have to say it was incredible. Chef Mi-sol Chevallier prepared a Gumbo with Crab, chicken and okra sort of a Gumbo made with Djondjon. Incredible dish.