March 25, 2022
Interview with Chef Antoine Poitevin of 5 Senses Antigua
Can you tell us more about 5 Senses?
5 Senses is a “vintage-chic” restaurant with nice music and atmosphere. With a fine-dining experience with table cloths and a menu that changes daily to reflect what is fresh. You can have champagne or rose for brunch/lunch, or dinner and lounge setting in the evening.
We prefer to use a blackboard for the menu, so I can come to the table and explain our dishes and daily specials. For me, respecting the product is the most important thing, and I source almost 100% locally.
Our priority is consistency and making sure that our clients are happy.
I think a warm welcome to the restaurant is vital, and my wife at the front of the house is very important for the first impression that our guests have of 5 Senses. We have great staff. Last year, we decided to give an opportunity to young people who had just left the hospitality school, and then we trained them ourselves. We’ve built an extremely strong team, and I feel we have everything for a ‘win’.
We also have plans for clearing the garden for a lounge area and creating better access from the sea so that dinghies can arrive from moored yachts. We may also start providing a shuttle service ourselves.
What is your goal?
We want to become the first Michelin-starred restaurant in Antigua. However, achieving a Michelin Star is not just about the food; it’s about having global perfection! This is my target.
What brought you to Antigua, and what were you doing before you came here?
I was working in Guadalajara, Mexico for three years in a French fine-dining restaurant. Then I started two restaurants in a lovely boutique hotel. I also worked with a catering company, providing banquets for VIPs. The minimum headcount was 300 and the maximum 2,500 people!
However, this is my passion; 5 Senses is my baby. I’ve only been a chef for ten years. Before that, I was a marketing manager in the boating industry. That’s why it was easy to relocate to Antigua – I have a boat AND a restaurant – my two passions in life!
I chose the life of a chef by completely changing my life at 30. I started from zero, and I worked day and night to become the chef I am today.
What is your signature dish?
It’s undoubtedly the pre-Hispanic soup as it’s very much “show-cooking”. Everything on the table starts off raw, and I cook the soup in front of our guests with a very hot river wok. It feels like magic, it’s like a volcano, and the guests can listen, smell and see it cooking. We named the restaurant 5 Senses as we want everyone to use their five senses when they come here so that it is a real experience.
I absolutely love cooking fish and lobster too. Eighty percent of my menu is from the sea, and I only use local ingredients if they are available. Even the beef for the beef bourguignon is from the island. I try to keep to traditional Mexican food with a French touch. But above all, I try to respect the products – that is the most important thing. Everything is fresh, which is why I change the menu all the time.
What would you like your guests to take away from an evening in your restaurant?
Firstly, I like to go to their table for their opinion – I want to hear constructive criticism if they have any. I want them to have a smile on their face. When people come to the kitchen and say thank you to my team, that is a mark of success for me. It isn’t just me here in the restaurant. Although I am the engine, without my staff, I am nothing.