A decadent and satisfying meal is sure to be had when Sandals' "Iron Chef" Andrea Joly, executive chef at Sandals Montego Bay, puts his culinary skills to work. He earned this distinguished title late last year at the inaugural Sandals Chefs' Summit which saw 22 executive chefs from Sandals, Beaches and Grand Pineapple Resorts across the Caribbean, showcasing their culinary skills.
Chef Joly prepared his favourite "home-made" ravioli and a vegetable-wrapped basa fillet dish that masterfully showed off his Italian roots and expertise. In the end, Chef Joly copped the top prize amongst his elite group of Sandals colleagues.
Joly's pull to the culinary world came from the time spent in his grandmother's kitchen. Chef Joly grew up in Aosta — a small town in northern Italy, bordering France. His first formal culinary training was at the Hotel Chatillon in Aosta Valley for three years, but Joly detoured thereafter as he followed this with a one-year stint in the Italian army. Not to be deterred by this break, however, he kept his culinary interests alive by persuading his comrades to allow him to prepare meals for the troops.
Following that, Joly seized the opportunity to travel extensively and experience different cultures and foods in Turkey, Greece, Malaysia, England, Guadeloupe and the USA. Through it all, his international exposure has allowed him to create delicious and exciting dishes to please the palate of celebrities, political officials and heads of state.
His accomplishments over the years were noted by Sandals Resorts International, and in 2004 Joly journeyed to Jamaica to take up his first post as executive sous-chef at Beaches Boscobel and then Sandals Dunn's River. His dexterity in the kitchen was obvious and resulted in Chef Joly being assigned to oversee his 'own' kitchen as executive chef at Sandals Montego Bay.
As executive chef in charge of the resort's culinary offerings, Chef Joly manages a team of 70 at seven dining outlets; the newest being the 'Dino Pizzeria' which he helped to officially open in 2011, providing guests with authentic Italian cuisine. At the resort, he delights and captivates guests with his quiet and witty demeanour whilst his secret ingredients and unique flavours excite them. His presentations are modern and artistic as he mixes colours, tastes and textures that continue to warm the palates of those he serves.
"I love the flavours of Italy but I enjoy infusing the taste of the Jamaican cuisine with my dishes to give it that extra kick," says Joly. As such, he has added to the varying dishes — ackee pizza — for guests adventurous enough to try something extraordinarily unique.
Chef Joly continues, "It is not the type of food you prepare, it is what you have on hand and what to do with it to create a meal for all to enjoy". With that said, he believes that creativity is an essential quality that a master chef must possess.