Call him radical, call him creative or just plain different. Whatever you decide, 38-year-old chef Xexon Thomas prefers to let his culinary creations do all the talking. There is a language to food, the former Fatima College student believes, and he recently shared this belief with the Sunday Guardian in the form of an exquisite three-course meal, titled Love, Sustain and Inspire Yourself, at his Brown Cow restaurant, situated in Crown Point, Tobago.
Our visit to Brown Cow was courtesy the Leve-Global Media Familiarisation Tour, an initiative of the Tourism Intelligence Agency, under the stewardship of its founder Dr Auliana Poon. The Sunday Guardian got a chance to chat with the busy chef who shared with us his journey of becoming a “conscious” chef.
Q: When and how did you become a chef?
A: It began while walking down Frederick Street as a medical insurance agent. I came across a ‘Help Wanted’ sign at the entrance of what was to be the Club de Vegas Casino, the parent company of the then soon to be opened Laughing Buddha Restaurant, Trinidad’s first authentic Japanese fine dining restaurant. I left selling insurance and jumped into the Japanese frying pan, my first love.
Did you eventually officially study culinary arts?
Yes, at TTHTI in Chaguaramas. I have a diploma in culinary arts.
What’s your style in cuisine and do your meals tell a story? If so, what exactly do they say?
My style of cuisine is callaloo international. I’m a Trinbagonian and we are beautiful and diverse, full of love, flavour and colour. Our culture speaks for itself. I appreciate my own and believe in supporting our own, all I do is fuse international concepts and ideas with our own cuisines and a dash of bacchanal.
How long has the Brown Cow existed and what’s the story behind its name?
Brown Cow Restaurant has been in operation since November 30, 2018. The name was literally derived from a relationship between a baby brown cow and a full grown pitbull. They lived together at an empty lot across the road from a restaurant where I worked as the head chef. I observed them every day eating, walking and sleeping together. I held on to that name for the day I opened my own restaurant.
What distinguishes Chef Xenon from other chefs?
As a chef I believe not compromising attitude, discipline and consistency set one apart, the attitude is the premier.
You were the featured chef at this year’s Leve. How was that experience and how do you think it has helped your business?
This was an extravagant experience which opened Brown Cow Restaurant and myself up to a much wider market within Trinidad and Tobago and potentially much further than our shores.
Why choose Tobago for your first restaurant? Do you have plans for opening a Brown Cow in Trinidad?
I decided to open Brown Cow Restaurant in Tobago because I saw that there was an opportunity... a need. I had an outlier and the time was nigh. Opening another branch in Trinidad will be a dream come true, but nothing is before it’s time.
You’re very close to nature and the restaurants interior design speaks of this. How do you marry your culinary skill with preservation of the environment?
Currently, even at the back of Brown Cow Restaurant where the team members sometimes relax and eat we keep a little space in pristine looking condition, growing some of our own herbs that are used for service. We support local farmers and we use biodegradable take away containers.
What are your future plans for the Brown Cow?
We at Brown Cow Restaurant are a part of a greater whole that is striving to further the development of the tourism brand in our twin island republic. Together we aspire; Together we achieve.