Puttin’ on The Ritz

In May, we were in attendance at ArtsBash in White Plains where we enjoyed looking at art created by talented artists and also enjoyed food crafted by some of  the area’s best chefs. When we think back to the food we ate, a veggie burger by Chef Kennardo Holder, Executive Chef at the Ritz-Carlton Westchester, still comes to mind. We caught up with him recently to learn more about him. This evening, we’ll be stopping his restaurant to taste more of his cooking and we can’t wait!

Chef Kennardo Holder
Chef Kennardo Holder, Executive Chef at The Ritz-Carlton Westchester

FP: How did you get your start with cooking?

KH: My parents did not enjoy cooking, so I would prepare the meals for our friends and family. Everyone always complimented me on the flavors and presentation of my food, so I began spending more time in the kitchen preparing even more elaborate meals.

During one of my high school outings, I was provided an opportunity to tour one of the local hotels in Jamaica. It was there that I discovered a career that would allow me to travel and explore new countries while doing what I loved.

FP: You know the saying, “follow your passion.” Guests of your restaurant are sure glad you pursued your career!

You’ve worked for The Ritz-Carlton brand since 2000. Share with us your experience working for the company.

KH: My experience with The Ritz-Carlton has been filled with personal exploration, growth and development opportunities. I began my career as a line cook at The Ritz-Carlton, Jamaica and was afforded an opportunity to work as a Sous Chef at The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain.

Three years later I moved to The Ritz-Carlton, Abaco Club as a Chef De Cuisine. Two years later I relocated back to Bahrain as Executive Sous Chef, and three years later I transferred to Bachelor Gulch as an Executive Sous Chef to run my own department. Following these experiences, I became Executive Chef at The Ritz-Carlton, Westchester.

FP: Sounds like you’ve paved your own path to success!

What are some of your favorite meals to cook for yourself at home?

KH: I make an incredible Jerk chicken. I tell my closest friends that when I retire, I am going to open a food truck on the beach in Jamaica and sell Jerk Chicken.

FP: We like jerk chicken so we’ll have to try yours! As for the food truck, count us in! 🙂

Name three chefs you would like to cook with in the same kitchen.

KH: I have enormous admiration for Thomas Keller’s high personal standards of product and presentation, Rachel Ray’s tenacity and modest cooking style and lastly, Eric Ripert for his use of classic French techniques.

FP: All great chefs indeed!

What are some of your guilty pleasures? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name. 🙂

KH: My favorite foodie pleasure is Rum Raisin ice cream.

FP: Ice cream is such a guilty pleasure!

What are some of your non-chef hobbies and interests? What do you like to do on your days off?

KH: Hiking, I lived in Colorado for 2 years and fell in love with the beauty of the outdoors.

FP: Thank you so much for your time. We look forward to seeing you tonight at The Ritz-Carlton!

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