A Nevisian Chef’s Journey to Africa


Above: Chef Curtis Smithen

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Chef Curtis Smithen has been taking Nevisian cuisine around the world, from New York to the Bahamas — but his latest food odyssey is bringing him halfway around the world to sub-Saharan Africa.

Smithen, the former executive chef at the Four Seasons Resort Nevis and the former Four Seasons in Great Exuma, is taking his culinary talents to Tanzania as the new executive chef at the Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti in the heart of the Serengeti National Park.

The resort, formerly the Bilila Lodge, will open in the fall. Smithen will be joined there by General Manager Jim Kostecky, another former Great Exuma colleague.

The Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti

“It’s a new beginning for all of us on the pre-opening team at the Safari Lodge,” he said. “The key for success in the kitchen is setting an energetic tone from the start.”

In his five years in Great Exuma, Smithen, who began his career at a small inn in Nevis, brought Nevisian flair to the Bahamas, with a signature dish of steamed grouper with peppers, tomatoes and baked macaroni and cheese.

He returned to Nevis as the resort’s executive chef in 2010.

“We know that Curtis will fly the Nevis flag proudly and share our special Caribbean culture with travelers in Tanzania and beyond,” said Andrew Humphries, regional vice president and general manager at the Four Seasons Nevis.

Smithen, who was also a part of the original pre-opening team at the Four Seasons Nevis more than 20 years ago, said he hopes to one day open a culinary school in Nevis.

“I’d like to see more opportunities than civil service for those growing up here,” he said. “I want to teach, but also inspire Nevisian youth to embrace their passion and experience opportunities to travel the world with the comfort of knowing that Nevis will always be home — home sweet home, that is.”