The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman has announced the selection of Stefan Ebanks as the first recipient of its recently created culinary scholarship.
Mr. Ebanks leaves Grand Cayman this week to complete a four-year culinary degree programme at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.
The 18-year-old was first introduced to the culinary arts when he worked at the Foster’s Food Fair deli at age 14. Recognising his potential and passion for food, chef Tanya Foster introduced him to chef Vidyadhara Shetty, who has mentored him for the past three years. Chef Shetty encouraged Mr. Ebanks to gain experience at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman where he worked in seven restaurants, in addition to serving as a Garde Manger in the Periwinkle through the Cayman Islands Tourism Apprentice Training Programme.
The resort will pay all tuition fees and room and board for Mr. Ebanks’ four-year degree. Valued at US$40,000 per year, the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Culinary Scholarship was created to support the efforts of the destination as we as the resort to strengthen Cayman’s position as leading culinary destination.
“We are so fortunate that Ritz-Carlton customers visiting our property can experience the culinary capital of the Caribbean,” said General Manager Marc Langevin. He added that, “It is a tremendous advantage over other Islands to be able to recommend dozens of great restaurants to our guests. The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman created the scholarship so an aspiring Caymanian chef could receive a degree from one of the industries most prestigious universities and perpetuate Cayman’s reputation for great culinary experiences.”
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman created the scholarship, but resort management was not involved in choosing the recipient. Mr. Ebanks was selected solely by admission of officials at Johnson and Wales for exceeding all of its academic and other criteria.
While Mr. Ebanks certainly had ties in the culinary community, it was his parents who inspired him to seize the opportunity.
“My mother read about the scholarship and encouraged me to apply,” said Mr. Ebanks, who added that his father was very proud, “as I am the first son to pursue a university education.”
Executive Chef Frederic Morineau and Director of Food and Beverage Guntram Merl, along with their teams will be available to Mr. Ebanks throughout his university experience for guidance and opportunities for summer work experience and participation in events such as Cayman Cookout.
“We will certainly welcome Stefan back into our kitchen any time on his school breaks,” said Mr. Merl. “……We will also support him in choosing to refine his skills in Cayman’s other restaurants, including Shetty’s eagerly anticipated new restaurant. Our mission is simply to help a young Caymanian realize his dream of becoming a professionally trained chef.”