Add a pinch of timeless European tradition to cutting edge New York gusto and blend well with fresh seasonal island sensibilities and you start to get a picture of the type of cuisine that chef Walter Hinds will present at his new Hinds Restaurant, slated to open this month at the former Tage location.
“Contemporary French with multi-ethnic influences,” is how Hinds, the former chef at Stone Terrace, describes what to expect at his new endeavor.
A native New Yorker, Hinds knew from a young age that food would be in his future.
“I always knew that I would be a chef,” said Hinds. “My parents are from Panama and growing up we had a housekeeper from Panama who was an incredible cook. I always loved food and knew it was what I wanted to do.”
Instead of following in his father’s footsteps in architecture, Hinds attended what was then Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School (now known as the Institute of Culinary Education).
Gotham Bar and Grill
After culinary school, Hinds served his first stint in the industry at the James Beard Award-winning Gotham Bar and Grill under world renowned chef Alfred Portale.
“Alfred was my mentor,” said Hinds. “He taught me how to do great food consistently. He was phenomenal to work with and was a real trend-setter.”
Portale isn’t the only talented chef Hinds has had the privilege with whom to share a kitchen. After several years at Gotham and 75 Main in Southampton, the budding chef crossed the pond for a taste of the Parisian life.
“I worked at a Michelin three-star restaurant in Paris with Lucas Carton,” said Hinds. “It was traditional French cuisine and just an incredible experience. It was off the hook.”
After a year in France, Hinds returned to his East Coast roots, cooking at 75 Main and other New York area restaurants for several years before the Caribbean came calling.
Bliss-ful in St. Maarten
“A friend of mine bought a beach bar in St. Maarten, and wanted to buy the property behind it so I got a call to come down and open a restaurant,” said Hinds. “We opened the restaurant and nightclub Bliss in 2001. Now it’s one of the top clubs in the Caribbean.”
Another stint in New York followed the St. Maarten experience and then Hinds took another phone call which would alter the direction of his life.
“I was back in New York and I got a phone call from the manager at Stone Terrace,” said the chef. “He had just heard about me and they needed a chef. I was kind of open at the time, so I came down.”
Hinds manned the kitchen at Stone Terrace for two seasons. Under his tenure, the Cruz Bay mainstay and the new chef on island both received rave reviews before the restaurant doors were shuttered earlier this year.
One Door Closes, Another Opens
With Stone Terrace closed, and no intention of leaving Love City, it was the perfect time for Hinds to branch out on his own.
“I love the island and I’ve met some really special people,” he said. “As soon as I heard Stone Terrace was going to close, I wanted to do my own project and I fell in love with the old Tage space.”
“It has this really sensual feel to it and when I heard it was available, I hopped on it,” Hinds continued.
The chef has been busy redecorating the space and making it his own. When he opens, patrons can expect the atmosphere to be as enticing as Hinds’ cuisine.
“It will be very sensual and very cool with sultry music,” he said. “It will be really inviting. Hinds Restaurant will be a place where you can go for martinis or a nice bottle of champagne or to enjoy an incredible dinner.”
Hinds plans to offer weekly menus featuring the freshest ingredients he can find.
Fresh and Exciting
“It will be cutting edge but also approachable,” said the chef. “I want to have five and seven course tasting menus available with or without wine pairings. I’ll have a very strong wine program which will include varietals from South America, Europe, California — the full gamut.”
“My menu will be all about the freshest ingredients with minimal handling and simple presentations,” continued Hinds. “I like letting the food speak for itself.”
While the feel of the restaurant might transport diners with its urban vibe, the food will reflect the island locale.
“The food will cater to the climate,” said Hinds. “Dishes won’t be heavy at all, but will be really fresh and clean.”
Keep an eye out for Hinds Restaurant to start operations with a soft opening this month. The veteran chef will close in September and prepare for a grand re-opening in October.
Make room on your social calendar this summer to try the cuisine of this European-experienced chef with Latin American roots who earned his stripes at some of the finest restaurants in the New York area.