Above: Chef Shawne Bryan
By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
CJ Travel Editor
MIAMI — Anguillian chef Shawne Bryan runs the pastry kitchen at Zuma, one of downtown Miami’s hottest tables. Celebs such as Gabrielle Union and Pharrell come here for the restaurant’s Japanese cuisine, but they keep coming back for the indulgent finales: the deconstructed desserts for which the Johnson & Wales-trained chef is known.
Shawne takes individual ingredients and flavor profiles from familiar sweets and then recreates them in a totally different yet equally delicious form. The nuts, caramel and milk chocolate in a Snickers bar, for example, may be transformed into an elegant peanut caramel infused with chocolate. And while his creations must sync with the restaurant’s Asian theme, he often sneaks in a little Caribbean flavor by using tropical fruit and vibrant island colors.
“With desserts, the smallest thing you do can have a big effect,” he says. “My goal is to create sweets that evoke happy memories, that remind you of something you enjoyed as a child and take you back to that moment.”
With days that start at 6am and continue until well into the night, Shawne’s leisure time is limited. But visiting Anguilla as often as he can is a priority (in fact, he was AXA-bound the day after our interview). Before he jetted off, the SUNY and Johnson & Wales-trained pastry chef met us on Zuma’s riverfront patio and over a spread of (what else?) heavenly desserts, shared his top five Anguilla eats.
“I used to work at this great restaurant on Mead’s Bay. The setting is beautiful and you never feel rushed here, only relaxed. Go for lunch or dinner with a beachfront view and try one of my favorites: the tuna or the snapper meuniere.”
“You have to check out this food truck in The Valley (right across from the dental clinic) and try the soy patties. They’re not as healthy as they sound (the patty is deep fried!) but I HAVE to have them when I’m home.”
“This food hut is on the border of Stony Ground and Little Dix. It’s open for lunch and dinner, and I usually order the blackened mahi wrap. Ruthie does good sweet potato fries and pizza, too.”
“The crust is what makes this South Hill pizza place so special; it’s very thin and crispy, almost like a cracker or a biscuit. Try my favorite duo of toppings: pineapple and onions.”
Above: one of Bryan’s signature desserts at Zuma
“This is a traditional Anguillian sugar candy I’ve loved since I was a child. It starts out hard and brittle but when you suck on it, it melts away. I’d really love to deconstruct this and make a derivative dessert but first I need to track down the only lady I know who still makes it! You can find it at fairs in The Valley during our carnival in August.”