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Meet Sandals Executive Sous Chef – Saint Lucian Niguel Gerald

Executive Sous Chef, Saint Lucian Niguel Gerald
Executive Sous Chef, Niguel Gerald

Sandals team members continue to deliver excellent service, many of whom have dedicated up to 20 years of service to the Caribbean’s leading hospitality company. They have honed their skills as true industry professionals at Sandals. These are team members who understand what it means to make guests happy, while keeping themselves energized and on the go.

Team members understand how to anticipate and exceed guest expectations, and they may transfer from one Sandals resort to another. Therefore, it is no surprise to find some who have spent time at more than one Sandals Resort in Saint Lucia and beyond.

Take for example Niguel Gerald. Currently the Executive Sous Chef at Sandals Grande St Lucian since 2019, he was a proud Senior Sous Chef at Sandals Halcyon Beach Resort, where he started with the brand in 2001.

Before he “found” himself, Niguel had dabbled around in the supermarket business. But he says, “with my passion for food, and because I always wanted to learn more, from day one, I knew I was home the minute I walked into Sandals.” He adds, “I think it was our chairman who used to say, if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. So, when you ask me, why have I done this for 20 years, actually, I have not worked a day in my life for 20 years.”

Given the opportunity to grow, Niguel has not looked back. While he speaks with some nostalgia of the good ‘ole’ days at Sandals Halcyon, where interacting with his guests was easier due to the smaller family sized resort, today he has fallen in love with Sandals Grande.

“Sandals Grande keeps you on your toes. It is very upbeat and you just have to understand your guests to keep them satisfied 24/7. I would have to say that my family has been a big part of my journey, as my wife and children have been with me every step of the way. To be a Saint Lucian and to be Executive Sous Chef, I think I have made my wife very proud,” he said.

While he has been busy cooking up a storm in his kitchen, Niguel continues to find the time to satisfy his inquiring mind. In addition to his formal training at Monroe College in Saint Lucia and Liaison College in Canada, he has also benefitted from courses organised by the St Lucia Hospitality and Tourism Association. And utilizing the Sandals Learning Management System, he has completed a number of short courses related to his field.

Chef Niguel has an indomitable spirit. He has captained the Saint Lucia National Culinary Team to victory twice, in 2017 and 2018 as they participated in the Taste the Caribbean Competition and under his tutelage, the junior culinary team also won gold.

Speaking with Chef Niguel is always a pleasure, especially when the sparkle comes to his eye as he sums up his career and goes into thoughtful mode about giving advice to young people who may want to walk in his shoes. “My career has been challenging. You will be tested. But you want to master the craft. You want to know the business.  You need to have a sound mind and clear judgment, because in the service field, particularly the hotel industry, you are dealing with guest issues, team member issues, and everything else that comes onto your plate.”

He continues in measured tones, “It is not about money or wearing the white coat. You have to rise above the heat of the moment and work from the passion in your heart. You just need to love this. I promise you, it has nothing to do with the money but the passion to achieve and your own development.”

Then he comes out of the moment, and with a bit of a bittersweet half smile, he says, “the job is demanding and sometimes you miss personal things.” And he turns again, “However I have absolutely no regrets being an Executive Sous Chef. I am in awe of the amount of pressure I have taken and my own growth. We always see room for improvement and how things can be different but my love and appreciation for my time and growth at Sandals is unmatched.”

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