Chef Q&A: Jean Winston Louis of Capri Fish House

The Capri Fish House colorful sign points customers toward the right direction for a savory and succulent seafood meal.

Jenine Ouillette/Special to the Eagle

The Capri Fish House colorful sign points customers toward the right direction for a savory and succulent seafood meal.

Capri Fish House

203 Capri Boulevard, Naples, FL

Executive Chef, Capri Fish House Restaurant on the Bay, 203 Capri Blvd., Isles of Capri., Phone: 389-5555

Began working at present restaurant?

The year 2000 in the beginning of season, I don’t recall the exact month.

Who or what inspired you to become a chef/cook?

I was born in Haiti and I always enjoyed eating good food, but my interest in cooking as a profession became serious after I left Haiti. When I got my visa in Haiti on Aug. 11, 1981, that allowed me to come here, it really changed my life. I flew from Haiti to New York City and arrived there on Aug. 21, 1981. That was the best day of my life. I spent one year in New York, working in an Italian restaurant in Manhattan, but I didn’t like it so I headed south to Miami where I had friends. I didn’t stay long because I got a job in Naples and began working at the Green Onion in 1982. I started as a salad person, working my way up to chef and at the same time I worked part-time on Marco Island at the Snook Inn and during that time they also owned the Windjammer.

What was your first restaurant job?

On Marco Island, it was the Snook Inn, but my first restaurant job as a full time executive chef was at Moran’s Barge Restaurant 1990 and I worked there over nine years until I started working as executive chef at the Capri Fish House in 2000.

How long have you been cooking professionally?

Since 1986.

Do food trends affect your cooking style?

No, I don’t bother with them. My style is based on creating dishes with the best quality, freshest ingredients and the knowledge and experience I acquired working at different restaurants. I guess you could say I’m a chef for all seasonings!

Are you planning any changes to your menu for the new season?

Yes, but it’s more like we’re adding one and expanding our hours. On Oct. 5, we’ll be offering a Sunday Breakfast Buffet, from 7 to 10:30 a.m., including an omelet station, fruit and cheese assortments, cereals, breakfast pastries, coffee and other traditional items. Then, beginning at 11:30 we’ll be doing our famous Sunday buffet until 5:30 p.m. In addition, starting Oct. 6, Monday through Saturday, we’ll offer a la carte menus for breakfast from 7 to 10:30 a.m.; lunch, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; dinner, 4 to 9:30 p.m., and daily specials and Early Bird from 4 to 5:45 p.m. only.

What is your most popular dish?

My special Seafood Capri. But, my Chef Special Seafood Mélange with pan sautéed red snapper, Maine lobster tail, shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams and mushrooms in white wine and butter sauce garnished with tomato concasse and served over fettuccini is also very popular.

What is your favorite wine/food?

Cabernet sauvignon or sauvignon blanc, I favor one of our regular menu items — Chicken Key Largo — it’s a grilled chicken breast stuffed shrimp and lobster then baked with a rich lobster cream sauce.

Do you cook at home? If so, what would we always find in your pantry?

Yes, I have three children, my son Winston, and my daughters Wynstona and Lianne, she’s the youngest. I enjoy cooking for my family, and always with the freshest ingredients.

What is your secret ingredient? Why?

Rosemary, because it’s my magic herb but I also like fresh thyme.

What would you like to be doing if you weren’t a chef?

I would enter the political arena and be influential to help the children in Haiti. Actually I’m currently enrolled in a program for helping young children in Haiti.

What annoys you most in the kitchen?

When we’re busy, I don’t like to be interrupted with silly questions when I’m cooking.

What do you enjoy most about your profession?

The best part of my profession is pleasing my customers by cooking their food exactly as they ordered, and then having them tell me how much they enjoyed their meal. I realize it’s difficult to please everyone, but I try my best to do just that!

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