In the shade of cocoa trees and the towering Petit Piton sits Boucan — a restaurant dressed in the finest dark woods and modern design with an intriguing menu dotted with cocoa, in all its various forms, throughout.
Like seeing a favorite celebrity in real life, I was starstruck as the walk up to the restaurant entrance was lined with trees heavy with cocoa pods. As a lifetime devout chocolate lover, this was the first time I had seen cocoa pods in their native habitat and it filled me with a silly giddiness.
That same giddiness found me again as I tasted spicy local greens coated in a sweet white chocolate dressing. And then, again, as I sampled my husband’s cocoa-nib-crusted Dorado and as I dipped my seared tuna in a cocoa pesto. I doused much of my food in freshly ground cocoa nibs, using the grinder provided at the table. I was released from the childhood rule of not eating chocolate for dinner, breaking it freely by putting cocoa nibs on virtually everything, all-the-while being perpetually stunned when the flavors worked beautifully together.
Full on a pleasantly spiced curry studded with fish and plantains, and a chocolate tasting carrying us from nibs to a cool, lightly sweet chocolate drink, we sat down with the chef to talk with him about St. Lucia and his incredible talent that he brought to the island.
Chef Jon Bentham runs the sleek, black, open kitchen at Boucan. While the food served isn’t necessarily traditional St. Lucian cuisine, the ingredients definitely are, with 95% of what is used in the kitchen coming from various locations on the island. Chef Jon proudly spoke of their own garden on the property, which supplies the restaurant with fresh organic herbs and greens. And of course, all the cocoa he could ever dream of using is located a few steps away from the kitchen.
Chef Jon and his staff work closely with the locals, ensuring them the finest ingredients. With the success of the restaurant, it’s a wonderful economic boost for many St. Lucian farmers. “We’re happy. The farmer’s are happy. Everyone’s happy.” Chef Jon proudly proclaimed.
I walked away happy as well and encouraged to see such a wonderfully inventive restaurant flourishing and taking full advantage of all ofthe incredible bounty found on the island.