Above: Carlos Anthonij
By Alexander Britell
For Carlos Anthonij, the love of food began at a young age.
Anthonij, a native of Curacao, drew his passion from following his grandmother, who worked for years as a dishwasher in kitchens across the island.
“You see the chef making food and it makes you feel good,” he says. “And my passion increased to become a chef like that.”
His cooking career has taken him all over Curacao, including stops at the Avila hotel and the Marriott, finding inspiration in the island’s diverse food.
“Curacao cuisine is colourful, because we have many people from many countries here,” he tells CJ. “They have a little bit of everything — a little bit of French, a lot of Holland, it’s really flavourful.”
Today, Anthonij is the chef at the Nemo restaurant at Curacao’s Lions Dive resort, and will take his talents to Miami as Curacao’s pastry chef at the Taste of the Caribbean competition beginning June 26.
The event pits 10 teams from around the Caribbean in a food and culinary competition, a bartending competition and a pastry competition, with each team representing a Caribbean island.
Anthonij and the team have been training for three months. For now, as a veteran of the competition, he’s hoping for the gold, but also hoping to learn more about the varied culinary traditions of the other islands of the Caribbean.
“You have to learn from them, from the other countries,” he says. “For example, I like how St Maarten cooks, and I learn simple things from them — but every country has its own style.”