Ed Gannon and Anthony Dawodu recently took their working relationship from Boston all the way to the U.S. Virgin Islands, when both men began jobs at Caneel Bay Resort.
Dawodu, the resort’s new executive chef, formerly worked under Gannon — Caneel’s new resort manager — at the Four Seasons in Boston.
Gannon used to work as an executive chef, but made the leap to resort management during his tenure at the Winnetu Inn and Resort on Martha’s Vineyard.
“Way back when, my wife and I aspired to own our own hotel,” said Gannon. “We started on a quest, opened some channels and made some connections, and we were presented with an opportunity to run the resort. It gave us the benefits of ownership without having to put up the capital.”
Gannon had the opportunity to focus on the management side of running a resort during Winnetu’s slow season, and stepped back into the kitchen during busy season.
“It was quite a juggling act,” said Gannon.
Gannon also worked as executive chef at the Four Seasons in Boston. Although he’s no longer working in the kitchen, he doesn’t miss cooking, Gannon explained.
Island Experience at Martha’s Vineyard
“I don’t miss it yet, because I cook at home,” he said. “Cooking is part of my soul.”
Caneel’s new resort manager discovered the position while doing consulting work for Rosewood Resorts. Gannon, who traveled to the resort for a 2004 vacation, learned the quirks of island living while working at Martha’s Vineyard, he explained.
“I had a little bit of the island experience,” said Gannon. “It exposed me to the challenges of working on a Caribbean island.”
Gannon has been surprised to find that St. John is more well-equipped than Martha’s Vineyard, he explained.
“There’s more supplies, and better variety and ethnicity in the dining here,” said Gannon. “St. John has better pizza too.”
While Gannon has been hard at work during his first few weeks on island, he’s enjoying his new home and new job, he explained.
“It’s great to be a part of something that’s historic and nostalgic,” he said. “It’s amazing that a lot of the staff have been here for a long time. They are the heart and soul of what makes Caneel what it is.”
Gannon hopes to help the resort continue to follow its traditions, which began when Laurance Rockefeller established the property more than 50 years ago.
“I hope to keep with the tradition, and keep with the original vision,” said Gannon. “Nikolay (Hotze, Caneel’s Managing Director) has a direction, and my job is to help him follow it. We want to make the experience for the guests the best it can be, and to do that within the vision.”
Contemporary American Cuisine
Helping ensure guests have the best experience possible is Dawodu, the resort’s new executive chef, who was told about the position by his former boss, Gannon.
Dawodu worked at the Four Seasons under Gannon as a chef de cuisine.
The new executive chef, who attended culinary school in England, is a New York native who was raised in Africa. He ran two restaurants in Boston, including the popular 33 Restaurant and Lounge.
Dawodu, who did not divulge his plans when it comes to the resort’s menu, enjoys contemporary American cuisine “where you can embrace different cultures,” he explained.
Dawodu did divulge that the resort’s menu will be “lighter,” he said.
“It’s too early to say, but it will have a lighter feel,” said Dawodu. “There’s nothing I can tell you right now.”
Caneel’s new executive chef, who has been on the job just three weeks, is enjoying working with the resort staff.
“The people are warm and receiving and willing to learn,” said Dawodu. “The island is very different from the hustle and bustle of the city, and the scenery is beautiful.”
Dawodu has not yet sampled local West Indian cuisine, but said it is on his list of things to do.