Chef Lynn mixes classic style with tropical flair

Wed Mar 17, 2010 6:42am EDT
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dagan Lynn is giving a tropical makeover to some of the classic Mediterranean dishes created by master French chef Alain Ducasse.

Ducasse picked the 34-year-old to head the kitchen of mix on the beach, his first restaurant in the Caribbean at the W Retreat & Spa on the U.S. island of Vieques off Puerto Rico.

Lynn's menu for the restaurant, which will open on March 25, combines Ducasse's high-style with everyday Caribbean ingredients such as mangoes and pineapples.

The executive chef, who grew up on a farm in upstate New York, spoke to Reuters on cooking with tropical foods and working on the small island off the east coast of Puerto Rico.

Q: How hard was it for you to blend the local Caribbean ingredients with Ducasse's Mediterranean-inspired style?

A: "The Caribbean is very similar to the Mediterranean. They have similar ingredients. They are light fares. There are some products which I'm not familiar with. They have a wild basil that's grown here, which is very aromatic."

Q: What are some of the dishes that have local flair?

A: "I'm just starting to put together a melon gazpacho. There is also a nice cocoa bean soup. The whole menu has a bit of a Caribbean feel to it. We are introducing a little bit more Latin flavors as we develop the menu."   Continued...

<p>Chef Dagan Lynn poses for a portrait in this November 15, 2009 handout photo. REUTERS/W Hotels/Handout</p>