XpBonaire Feature Story
At the end of May, 2019, a new restaurant opened its doors on Bonaire: Chefs. Yes, the island offers a variety of restaurants and eateries, but with the coming of Chefs, we were introduced to a new and exciting concept. At Chefs, you leave your choice of food up to the chefs and owners, Han and Mark.
Han and Mark both have a long history on Bonaire and have built their reputation and network on the island.
Han, who already knew at age 4 that he wanted to become a cook, spend a lot of his time at a party and bowling center owned by a family member. He was never really interested in bowling, but loved the hustle and bustle in the kitchen. He was allowed to sit and watch, which he did with excitement. These early beginnings resulted in a culinary education and a lifelong career in the world of food and drink.
Han made sure to travel the world and accepted jobs in different countries. While working in France, he was introduced to a former manager of Plaza Resort on Bonaire, who later approached him in 2007 and offered him a job on the island. Han, who started as a sous chef, was given the opportunity to grow and became chef and F&B Manager. What was meant to be a year on the island became 5 years of exciting new experiences. The Tipsy Seagull at Plaza Resort became a favorite for many island residents who loved food and trusted the skills and taste buds of the very social chef who could not only cook, but was also a born entertainer.
After 5 years, Han became co-owner and operational manager at Spice Beach Club, a location that finally brought a beach location back to down town Kralendijk and was one of the busiest hot spots, especially on weekends. After another 5 years of success, Han decided to sell his shares and take time off, travel with his girlfriend and clear his head for new things to come.
Mark started his hospitality career really early too. Selling hamburgers at the market, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to become a pastry chef or a cook. During his education, it became clear that he preferred the team atmosphere in a kitchen over the more production oriented work as a pastry chef.
While in school, he met Han. They worked together and kept in contact over the years. When Han offered him a job on Bonaire at Plaza Resort, Mark followed the call and worked for 2 years and then decided it was time to return to the Netherlands. Of course, this was not the end and a few years later Han called him again to offer him a job as chef at Spice Beach Club.
Over the 3 years he was in charge, Mark was able to grow and build a great reputation for this oceanfront restaurant.
Looking at his personal growth, he started a small business selling homemade ice cream during cruise ship season. In the end, it was not feasible enough financially to continue throughout the year. After another 3 years, Mark decided to return to the Netherlands again and try his luck there. With a partner he set up a small business, but after 3 years it was clear that it was not sustainable enough for 2 people to make a living.
Over 17 years, Han and Mark have become a great team besides becoming good friends. Their personal preferences and passions complement each other perfectly. While Han was on his break, he and Mark decided to start a new restaurant together on Bonaire with a concept that was clear to both and that they had discussed for many years. While Han was looking for the perfect location, Mark organized all the things needed from the Netherlands and Europe.
After 1½ years of looking for the perfect location, Han finally found it in Bamboo Bali, a small scale resort with a beautiful tropical garden located in Hato.
The Culinary Journey
Han and Mark have designed a stylish and tasteful restaurant that seats a maximum of 16 people. The guests are personally welcomed at the entrance at 7 pm sharp with a glass of Prosecco and are introduced to the other guests.
While the guests find their seats and decide if they would like a wine pairing, a selection of wines that match the 5 courses, or choose their own drinks, Han and Mark are starting to prep the first course in the open, center point kitchen. The guests are all seated around this open kitchen and have a perfect view of all the food prep procedures during the night. The menu is a surprise to all the guests with a little teaser that we are allowed to give you in advanced online. The 5 course menu changes every 2/3 weeks.
While the two chefs have been educated in classic French food preparation, they love to include Caribbean influences and local produce. They look for the best quality from all over the world to serve on our small island of Bonaire. The chefs are known for their creativity and perfectly developed taste buds and that is reflected in the many creations they serve which are perfectly balanced, beautiful eye candy and exciting in taste.
The perfect Gift
In case you are looking for a great gift for a special occasion, get one of the Chefs’ gift vouchers for your loved one to enjoy a special night.
Chefs is open Thursday – Monday by reservation only and always starts at 7 pm sharp. Chefs suggest this culinary journey is for adults only. No phone use is allowed during the dinner with the exception of taking pictures. The only thing you need to do is let go, relax and enjoy the journey.