Mon | Feb 26, 2024

Culinary elegance at Couples Sans Souci’s Cassanova Restaurant

Published:Thursday | November 30, 2023 | 12:08 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer
Executive Chef Tyron Jackson serves up culinary delights in the open kitchen.
Executive Chef Tyron Jackson serves up culinary delights in the open kitchen.
Serving up a culinary delight are (from left) Cassanova sous-chef Craig Forest with his team Warren Geddes and Christen Bandoo.
Serving up a culinary delight are (from left) Cassanova sous-chef Craig Forest with his team Warren Geddes and Christen Bandoo.
Couples Sans Souci Executive Chef Tyron Jackson is ready to create tantalising dishes for you to enjoy.
Couples Sans Souci Executive Chef Tyron Jackson is ready to create tantalising dishes for you to enjoy.
Seared blue marlin with lemon butter sauce.
Seared blue marlin with lemon butter sauce.
Savour the 
 moment with these 
  delicious rosemary 
   roast lamb chops
   with wood oven 
    roast veggies.
Savour the moment with these delicious rosemary roast lamb chops with wood oven roast veggies.
Elevate your taste buds with the exquisite flavours of Escargot in garlic-herb butter.
Elevate your taste buds with the exquisite flavours of Escargot in garlic-herb butter.
1
2
3
4
5
6

WESTERN BUREAU:

Step into a world where culinary artistry meets the vibrancy of an open kitchen, a vision brought to life by Couples Resorts’ celebrated regional Executive Chef Stefan Spath.

Nestled within the historically chic confines of Couples Sans Souci in Ocho Rios, Cassanova Restaurant is no longer just a dining experience, it’s a spectacle that invites you into the heart of gastronomic creativity.

Spath, renowned for his innovative approach to cuisine, has seamlessly woven the Food Network-inspired restaurant into the fabric of Executive Chef Tyron Jackson’s psyche. It is Jackson’s responsibility to transform each meal into a visual symphony, where the sizzle of pans and the dance of flames are as enchanting as the flavours that grace the plates.

“It’s an inspiration to create various dishes for Cassanova, the combination of local ingredients to create international dishes for our guests’ taste buds,” Jackson told Food.

Jackson’s culinary theatre unfolds nightly by his wood oven specials, which, he tells The Gleaner, are in harmony with the restaurant’s Caribbean fusion cuisine. In fact, Cassanova, one of three gourmet restaurants at the recently renovated multimillion-dollar resort, is bustling every night except Fridays, when there is a gala with limited seating for 40 guests.

Jackson’s magic unfolds not just on the plate, but right before your eyes. An ode to the decadence, where every meal is a masterpiece and every diner is an audience to his culinary theatre.

The restaurant spans two levels, with an additional outside area for those who prefer to avoid air conditioning in the winter months, as explained by the resort’s general manager, Pierre Battaglia, a Jamaican born in France.

Dining with Battaglia, Spath, and Michelle Gordon, the group’s social media coordinator, felt akin to attending a Chaine des Rotisseurs dinner event, sharing the values of quality fine dining. Except, this was Couples Sans Souci and it was far more intimate.

Chef Jackson, his sous-chef Craig Forrest, and team members Warren Geddes and Christen Bandoo, along with the rest of their crew, tantalised the palate with a delectable Caribbean seafood au gratin, which swiftly became the signature dish, pleasing even the most discerning taste buds.

Just when we thought the culinary giants couldn’t do any better, they amazed our senses with a seared blue marlin that yielded effortlessly to a succulent lemon butter, gracefully dripping from the chef’s spoon. A rosemary-roasted lamb chops with wood oven-roast veggies secured a near second to the marlin. But the island spice-rubbed beef tenderloin with merlot beef emerged as a major spoiler.

Jackson seemed to have infused his essence into the food, leaving an unmistakable stamp, and the Caribbean fusion was palpable even in this European-themed restaurant.

Cassanova’s history is rich, spanning over 50 years since the Facey family bought the resort. It is now operated by the Issa Group, owners of Couples Tower Isle, Couples Negril and Couples Swept Away.

“They brought the famous family from Italy and the Cipriani and they created the experience of the Casanova. Menus were written by Italian chefs from the Cipriani in Venice, one of the most famous hotels in the world,” explained Battaglia.

Ideally, this offered an Italian flair of the ‘60s and the restaurant continued like that for years, adding a little French to its offerings. “But 10 years ago, we move into an infusion of Caribbean cuisine with a European touch,” says Battaglia. In compliance with all their Couples resorts, they are in sync with the Caribbean fusion.

The menus are set in the same way, but not identical, as the regional executive chef says he tries to leave the individual chefs with enough freedom.

They come up with their ideas, each contributing at least four appetizers, two soups, one salad and two menus each week. “So when a guest is with us for seven nights, which most do, they get to experience two different menus,” said Spath.

The group’s repeat business is among the most sought after locally, and their repeaters have their favourites, which is also taken into consideration when planning the menus.

An epicurean experience at Cassonova is incomplete without the right wine pairings. For dinner, we enjoyed Gavi Gavi Cortese di Gavi, a famous Italian white wine usually served with seafood, and the renowned Chateauneuf du pape, made famous by the Roman Catholic Pope at the time of its inception.

This French fine wine, established in 1936, served as red, was exactly the pairing that complemented the flavours of both the lamb and the beef tenderloin.

Janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com