Feed yourself, island strays

with Lunch for Animals

The lunch you buy this weekend could help feed, heal and shelter strays on the island.

This Saturday,June 24, residents can order one of two meals from Peruvian restaurant Nazca that will support local animal rights group, Animal Defenders St. Maarten. Supporters can choose between either a vegan dish, a causa made with potatoes and medley of vegetables, including peppers, onions and fresh cilantro; or a Peruvian-style roasted half-chicken dish with a salad or either fries or rice and a spicy mustard-type sauce.

Each meal costs $12. All proceeds will go to Animal Defenders, which builds and maintains shelters for strays, and feeds, spays/neuters and vaccinates those animals. People in Philipsburg’s Front Street, Back Street or Boardwalk areas can have their meals delivered for free.

You can choose to have lunch at Nazca, which is across from the Methodist Church and near Walter Plantz Square. You will automatically be entered into a raffle to win a bottle of Pisco sour, a citrus-flavoured Peruvian brandy, and a beach towel. Anyone who wants to help this cause can call +1 (721) 588-9567 to buy their tickets.

St. Maarten ready for Dutch Caribbean Women’s Soccer Cup

Soccer fervour has been fired up for the 2nd Annual Dutch Caribbean Women’s Soccer Cup slated to start tomorrow, Friday, June 23, at Raoul Illidge Sports Complex. Organised by Oualichi Women’s Soccer Association and St. Maarten Soccer Association, the three-day affair will see women’s teams SUBT of Curaçao, Oualichi from St. Maarten, SV Britannia of Aruba and a selection from Bonaire’s “Kick it Out” to take home what is quickly becoming a prestigious cup.

One of the main goals of this competition is to raise awareness and the level of women’s soccer within the Dutch Caribbean. There is room for growth in this sport, which Oualichi Women’s Soccer Association and St. Maarten Soccer Association want to use to influence more interest. This event, which is mainly sponsored by Brugal Rum, will also give the associations a great opportunity to showcase the skill of Dutch Caribbean women’s teams.

Another positive outcome of this competition is to sharpen the skills of local Dutch Caribbean women’s teams creating a much needed training ground for a larger global stage. The level of camaraderie generated by this competition offers women soccer fans games to remember while making the Dutch Caribbean women’s teams stronger.

The competition will kick off with an hour-long opening ceremony at 7:00pm followed by the first game of the competition slated for 8:00pm, with St. Maarten’s Oualichi WSA taking on Bonaire’s selection. On Saturday, it is SUBT Curaçao vs. SV Britannia at 9:00am followed by evening matches Bonaire Selection vs. SUBT Curaçao at 6:30pm and SV Britannia vs. Oualichi WSA starting at 8:00pm.

On the final day, Bonaire Selection plays SV Britannia at 6:30pm and St. Maarten based Oualichi WSA challenges SUBT Curaçao starting 8:00pm. A closing ceremony is planned for 9:30pm.

Advance tickets for the entire weekend cost US $10 and ticket holders will also get a chance to win sponsored prizes during the event each night. Sponsors who want to join and contribute to this sporting event can contact oualichisoccer@gmail.com or “Dutch Caribbean Women’s Soccer Cup” and “Oualichi Women's Soccer Association” on Facebook.

Roosters: Delightful repast

“Quick lunch in Simpson Bay?” “Yes, why not? But where?” “Well, let’s try Roosters, I heard it was great food.” “Roosters? Not heard of it. Where is it?” “Not sure but I did see a sign on a light post, I think, it said Red Rooster’s Buffet & Lounge near where the Scarlet building is.” “Okay, meet you in the car park – say noon time.” “For sure. See you there!” And so that is how we came across a delightful lunch place where the food is really delicious, the service quick and the welcome very friendly. What more can one ask for?

I checked up online and saw this: “The restaurant offers a variety of exquisite cuisine specialities. The chef has a vast experience in the culinary field; you will be taken on an amazing and different gastronomic experience –tapas, pastas, salads & crêpes.” I have to say, I agree!

We parked in the car park and realised that if you blinked you could miss this tiny spot. There are a few tables on the wee veranda and a couple inside. The entire interior is taken up with a long counter that serves as kitchen and buffet. The decor is bright and cheerful. Menus are on the wall and such delightful aromas came wafting out to greet us.

I took a peek at the buffet: there was a variety of great looking dishes, oxtail, curry, vegetarian and not, local and not; but the specials board caught my eye. We did check out the menu too. Prices were very reasonable; the choice of cuisine type was truly quite big. We settled on tuna for both of us.

Before our meal came, we were brought the house amuse, warm health baguette toast with garlic butter. It was delightful. My order was off the specials board – a tuna tartare with fries. Do I really need fries? No, but fries often go a bit soggy as they get cold so I did not think I would eat many, let them come.

My tartare was out of this world. The tuna was perfect, chopped small it was layered with mango and avocado. I tasted a chip, no salt needed; I had another chip, and another. Then I made a wee chip butty (an English thing – fries on buttered bread – so good) YUM! Yes, it was good.

I wrenched my way from finishing those fries. I wanted more tartare. I will go back for another lunch – it’s a date!

My friend ordered from the menu. The tuna was grilled to perfection – this dish came with a perky, fresh salad, wasabi and pickled daikon. The entire dish was fantastic. The meal was devoured. We did not have dessert or wine; it was a quick lunch on a busy day, after all, but we did have a very good cappuccino.

I did not notice the people coming and going with their take-outs, but after we ate, I noticed that the buffet dishes were pretty empty so there must have been a brisk business on take-outs. Perhaps we will do that soon, today even. Yes, I heard Roosters food is great – we highly recommend you try it!

Red Rooster’s Buffet & Lounge

Three Palms Plaza,

60 Welfare Road, Cole Bay

Phone: 1 721 524-1468

Email: roostersbuffet@gmail.com

Cuisine: Fusion

Opening hours: Daily – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Tapas

                        6:30 – 11:00pm

Ratings:

Staff friendliness ****          

Service speed  ****   

Restaurant cleanliness ****  

Food quality    *****             

Value for money *****         

Ambience        ***                 

Sushi @ Ginger

~ Fabulous Asian ~

This is the month of graduations! The occasion, where family members fly in from all over to gather together to support the one graduating, is a very special affair. As such, an after-party (geared around the ankle-biters and wrink-lies) means going to a celebratory dinner where all ages can enjoy the occasion before the teens head on out to play.

In the case of this graduation family event, the chosen restaurant was Ginger. Ginger is a very accommodating family restaurant where everyone is certain to enjoy their meal – from tot to teen, to parent and even grandparent. The restaurant is small, but there has been another section added fairly recently which can take extended tables – and this is where we all squeezed in along with a high-chair and a stroller! Oh yes; and the wine cooler stands. The sushi prep area runs the length of the restaurant. Oriental décor, small but good wine list and quick service score big here.

The wait staff came to order drinks, family kept arriving, everyone moved up a bit more, more folk came over, the smallest ones sat on various visitors’ laps, back to parents, back to another cousin, a glass was knocked over and quickly the staff were there to mop it up! In other words, a normal, happy bunch partaking of a meal together with much laughter and fun; the graduate feeling a little overwhelmed and parents of the young wanting to eat soonest to get the wee ones back home to bed. And very quickly their food did arrive.

Salmon had been ordered; it arrived quickly exactly as ordered – a tad underdone and no sauce – just perfect. In the meantime, small plates of edamame and eggplant arrived. Both of these were excellent but the eggplant is worthy of a mention. These perfectly fried slices are sublime with or without the sauce that arrives with them. Another starter that is delicious is the scallion pancakes. These are tasty, not so greasy and crisply fried. More wine, more laughter and the main course arrived.

All the teens/young adults ordered sushi (as can be expected in a sushi restaurant, of course) a huge boat was brought to the table filled with rows of the ordered rolls. It is an amazing sight. Presentation is of utmost importance, and the eye-appeal of Ginger’s dishes rates uppermost. Other adults ordered the garlic shrimp and salmon and special sushi rolls.

Suddenly, there was a lull in conversation – as there is when everyone’s mouth is full – the lull did not last naturally. No one had room for dessert that evening. Ginger is highly recommended, yet again, by all ages.

How wonderful to spend time with the graduate and family and friends. Congratulations to all those who have made it through to their final school year!

Sushi is a Japanese food consisting of cooked vinegary rice combined with other ingredients, seafood, vegetables and sometimes tropical fruits. Sushi is often served with ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce. Raw fish (or occasionally other meat) sliced and served without rice is called “sashimi.” The earliest written mention of sushi in English is in an 1893 book, “A Japanese Interior” where it mentions sushi as “a roll of cold rice with fish, sea-weed, or some other flavouring.”

Ginger Sushi & Grill

Paradise Mall, Cole Bay

Phone: 1 (721) 544-4573

www.facebook.com/gingersxm

Cuisine: Authentic Sushi/Sashimi

Vegetarian/Vegan: Possible

Opening hours: Monday-Friday 5:00pm onwards; Saturday/Sunday 1:00pm onwards

Ratings:

Staff friendliness *****        

Service speed  ***** 

Restaurant cleanliness ****  

Food quality    *****             

Value for money *****                     

Ambience        ****               

Stoli Brand Ambassador Fernanda Neves is in St. Maarten, where she will be training, bartending and spreading the word about the Stoli brand amongst other things. While on St. Maarten, Fernanda will be doing some market visits: checking the visibility, availability and distribution of Stoli products; looking at the market to promote the brand and teaching people about Stolichnaya Vodka, its origins, how it’s made and how to be creative by using Stoli in cocktails.

Neves also did some staff training at Caribbean Liquors; met with Stoli flagship accounts, held a live radio interview and did some guest bartending. Today, she will conduct a bartender training for interested bartenders from noon to 2:00pm at Melange Restaurant (Port de Plaisance). Lunch will be served. This evening will be the second Stoli Red pop-up party at Dirty Sanchez. Neves will do some guest bartending and there will be a Video DJ and a Stoli pop up bar with drink specials on the Stoli Moscow Mule and Lemonade. The public is welcome.

Neves tells us more about herself in this week’s Hot Seat.

Who is Fernanda Neves?

I am the Stoli Ambassador for Latin America and the Caribbean, and Ultra Luxury portfolio of Stoli for Florida, USA. I was born in Bauru, Sao Paulo. I’ve lived in Miami for the past 15 years. I am a Brazilian natural with some Argentinian blood, who portrays both the distinguished Brazilian charisma and the well-known Argentinian determination.

Education?

I hold a Marketing degree from Florida International University (FIU).

When did you discover your love for the marketing and beverage industry?

I have always been an outgoing person who is passionate about everything I do. My family has a business background, so business is in my blood. But when it came to numbers, I always liked to interpret them not calculate them. So marketing was the perfect major for my personality and skills. When my family went back to Brazil and I decided to stay to finish college, I had to start working to pay my bills while going to school. The solution was to work at night in the food and beverage industry and study during the day.

How did you end up being the Stoli Brand Ambassador?

Before Stoli, I worked at Fontainebleau Resort, on the buyer side of the business. I was the official mixologist of the hotel, working at the Scarpetta outlet. I ended up being the Stoli Brand Ambassador after a friend of mine, who had worked for Stoli for five years, recommended me for a new position that opened up based in Miami.

What do your tasks entail?

My job is divided amongst two sides. The Global side, where my territory is Latin America (LATAM), where the focus is more marketing oriented. So I visit markets with the support of the local distributor and I follow the agenda prepared that ranges from Master classes and trainings with distributor, bartenders and buyers to guest bartending events, event appearances, radio/TV shows and media interviews.

What do you like about your job?

I like the versatility of my days. Every day my job is different. I am in different countries, meeting new people and exploring different cultures.

Tell us about your upcoming trip to St. Maarten?

This is my fourth time in St. Maarten, third for work. St. Maarten is definitely at the top of my list when it comes to the islands. Now when I come back, I feel like I’m visiting friends because I know a lot of people already and we always have an amazing time. My expectations are to spread Stoli knowledge and love while keeping a smile on my face.

I will be doing a lot of bartending trainings and two main events at Sunset Lounge at Papia, and the Red Night at Dirty Sanchez.

What would you like to say to encourage people to come out to the bartender training?

If you want to learn about global tendencies and the full Stoli portfolio while having a blast sipping on refreshing drinks, you must show your face. I bet I can have you trying some samba moves after you get the kick from the classic mules.

What special can be expected from you as a guest bartender at Dirty Sanchez?

I will prepare some classic cocktails with some exclusive twists, show different cocktail techniques and individually chat with each guest, answering questions and hearing feedback.

As someone who is always around drinks, what is your favourite alcoholic beverage?

Elit shaken martini with blue cheese olives. I like to keep it simple, classy and original.

What is your advice to others wanting to follow in your professional path?

Keep in tune with the trends, acquire knowledge, keep it positive and be persistent. As bartenders, we have the opportunity to meet a lot of people. Your contacts will be the best skill you have in your resume, so keep those contacts and know when to utilize them at the right time.

Future goals?

My personal goal is to eventually be able to balance my career and start a family. My professional goal is to reach a top position in the company and then start my own brand.

What do you do outside of your job?

Exercise. I love to do sports, run on the beach, walk with my dog and dance.

Tell us something about yourself that no one else knows?

This is a hard one, because I feel like I’m very open with my life… Maybe that I learned how to sing in Japanese with my grandmother [laughs].

What is your favourite type of music?

I love music period. I like almost everything. It all depends on my mood. But I catch myself listening to a lot of Brazilian music, hip hop, and lately soca.

If you could invite three people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be and what would you serve them?

I would invite my two brothers and my boyfriend. I would serve them a typical dish from Brazil called feijoada, which consists of black beans cooked for hours with parts of pork like feet, tail, ear, ribs, served with white rice and farinha (yucca powder).

 

They left everything in Spain. They sold their home and possessions and arrived in St. Maarten with only five suitcases, one for each member of their family. That was three years ago.

These days, business is good for Susana and Eduardo Fargas, who supply supermarkets, resorts and visitors with Spanish products including wines, meats and fragrances. They recently opened a small store next to their warehouse on a narrow side street in Cole Bay. Then they added a few tables, some stools, checkered tablecloths and a menu. There, they offer guests the chance to taste paella, Iberico ham and other food with deep Spanish history. Guests usually walk out with any of the products they might have eaten in their shop.

Susana is quick to point out her “Made in Spain” shop isn’t a restaurant. “I don’t cook here,” she says. “I only warm.”

A slender 40-year-old blonde, Susana flits from table to table while at work, checking on guests, taking orders, discussing and delivering dishes and maybe mostly importantly, taking the cash at the end. While working, she wears her hair in a ponytail, and large, blue glasses adorn her face. It’s her work mode.

“But this is no me,” she pleads in a later conversation with me, as photographer and not interviewer. Then, she poses with her husband, a stout man who is quick to laugh, even at himself, and tends to sing off key and out of tune to songs he enjoys.

Back to interview day, she wears a tidy blouse, red with tiny dots of white. She offers thoughts through a thick Spanish accent for which she apologizes profusely. Sometimes, she mispronounces a word. Other times, she might not follow a grammatical rule exactly. It is an endearing trait. Even more remarkable, though, when you hear her speaking English (which is fine), considering she only learned to really converse in the language two months ago by struggling through conversations with guests when the couple opened their store. She and I talk about that and other things.

Tell me about yourself.

Susana: We were living in Spain. My family are five: My husband, me and three kids. We were living there, and some day my husband asked me if I would like to move to live a new experience with the kids and start again in another place. And I said, “Yes, why not? Sounds good.” My only condition was not in a cold place, so the Caribbean. I was looking on Google for an island with hospital, airport directly to Europe – because if we have to run – and a good school and good for the business also.

Not a lot of options, so we chose St. Maarten. We arrived here with nothing. We sold everything in Spain. We arrived with five suitcases. Come here and we start to sell wines and slowly we grew. That was three years ago. Now, two months before, we thought, why we don't open a small store with the things that we have for the public, also to enjoy, you know; we opened the store and then we thought we can put some tables and then the people can try, which we sell.

How is business?

Susana: Good. Good. Since the first day we opened, we don't do advertisements because we want to go slowly. I did not want a lot of people coming every day because two months before, I just didn’t speak English – just a little bit; but not to be here with a lot of people. At the beginning, it was just the neighbours and some friends of ours. But friends told friends, and now, a lot of people know us. We will make the website.

What about your family? Tell me about your children.

Susana: They are lovely the first thing. We are like a pineapple, you know, very close, because we have only our family here. We are very close, and they are very happy to live here, this experience and to see how their parents are working for [them]. They respect us a lot, our work. They are always, “Can I help you?”

What do you want for the business? Where do you want it to go and to be?

Susana: For example, Saturdays it's full. I would like every day like Saturdays. And then we would like to start making delivery for the boats. We want to deliver cases of wine, legs of hams and everything that we have. We want to deliver it to the boats.

Who eats here?

Susana: It's very mixed – French people, Dutch people and people from St. Maarten. In the neighbourhood, there are a lot of people from St. Maarten; they come here for something different; always the ribs and the chicken. They like new flavours.

While Susana and I talk, Eduardo is busy stocking the warehouse, loading and unloading palettes and generally getting his hands dirty. Susana lovingly refers to him as being industrious. She says of him that he inspired their move and built their business through many hours of in-person conversations, a backpack filled with samples, with various merchants on the island. She mimes walking with her fingers in the air as she talks about him. He stops in for a few moments while we talk to join the interview. Quickly, I can tell the two enjoy each other. They share a laugh in Spanish. Eduardo draws me into that conversation. As I start guiding the interview, he asks casually, “So what do you want to know? About my unrecognized children?” He is joking, of course. And Susana, who knows this too, chides him.

It looks to me like you have a lot of laughs together.

Eduardo: For us it's necessary, the sense of humour. Because you know life sometimes is so tough.

Susana: It's very easy to live with him because he is the most positive person in the world, so it's easy. He has everything super clear, and he's super clever in everything, no? If there is something to do, he do.

Eduardo: And I cry easy, so...

Susana: What more? And nothing is for him. It's always for me first and then the kids. And he's very...

[She struggles for a moment to find a word. Eduardo has a suggestion.]

Eduardo: Stupid.

A moment of raucous laughter ensues, mostly from me. I didn’t see that coming at all, but it is indicative of their relationship.

Later, after the laughter subsides, back to Susana.

Susana: Life is easy. It's for that because I say yes, to do. For example, my friends told me, "Don't do that because you going to feel alone. Yes, you gonna have your husband and your kids but alone in a new place, with new everything. I say, “No, I have my husband; it's everything that I need.” My kids por supuesto are with me, no? Otherwise, I cannot come. We are always everything that I need. If you don't want or need anything, then you're happy.

About then, Eduardo leaves and says to her, “Adios, pretiosa.”

“It means beautiful,” she tells me. That is usually how the two part ways.

Founder of SXM’s Girls Night Out

Nigeria, New York, Guadeloupe, France, Washington and Sint Maarten – Ogechi Anyanwu has called many places her home. But the latter, our island, holds a special place in her heart.

Ogechi, who founded SXM’s Girls Night Out, realized that women as consumers have a huge influence on our economy. This “power”, Ogechi has dubbed “sheconomy.” SXM’s Girls Night Out is an event that empowers businesses and entrepreneurs to tap into the “sheconomy” on Sint Maarten/Saint Martin while providing female consumers with an all-around perfect night out filled with shopping, cocktails, pampering and entertainment.

On Saturday, June 3, the 5th edition of SXM’s Girls Night Out will be held. Since the first edition in 2012, Ogechi and her team have seen the event grow in exponential numbers with more than 1,500 women in attendance last year. Out N’ About sat down with Ogechi to find out more about her popular event.

How did you become an event organizer?

When I was 19, I moved to France to attend university to study international law. Since I was four, I wanted to become an attorney, with the dream of fighting injustice. Yet in my last year, I realized that my dream wasn’t realistic as one of my teachers said, “Justice isn’t just.” Besides that, most of the attorneys I knew did not live a lifestyle I envisioned myself living. I moved to Washington and started studying entertainment business and management. I loved the idea of being part of creating a product that allowed people to escape the everyday hustle and bustle. During this time, I attended a lot of events and started being inspired by how to go about creating unique events myself; which I did as soon as I got my degree!

What inspired Girls Night Out?

During university, I attended a lot of events, which gave me many ideas. I also have always been a fan of empowering women and was drawn to the idea of creating a unique event that caters to them. I had also noticed that there were few events that took women into account from an economical standpoint. I saw a niche there; women are a HUGE part of our economy and should be recognized as such. Many events, marketing and businesses do not target women and their huge buying power the right way. SXM’s Girls Night Out is a combination of what I aspire to change, have seen, learned and fills that important “sheconomic” gap. It was also important to me that it would be a lot of FUN!

How did you go about creating this new event?

I presented my idea to my mom, Bernadette Davis, who many people know on Sint Maarten/Saint Martin. She has produced many successful events; so I asked her what she thought about my idea. I also asked if I could be on her team should she decide to do it. She loved it and said, “You are going to make this event happen and I will be on your team.” We involved a few more key family members each with their own unique talents and ideas who have made SXM’s Girls Night Out such a success. Jennifer Simmons-Hughes and Ogechi have shared a vision of creating a production company from the age of 11 and 12. After the first SXM’s Girls Night Out event, Jennifer was inspired to open several Yogen Fruz chains in Holland. Linda Cocks is a multi-business owner and a tourism industry expert. Ijeoma Anyanwu is a marketing expert and creative director.

What are some of the difficulties in creating such an event?

It is hard to have to fight for sponsors each year on Sint Maarten/Saint Martin. I think many people face the same issue on the island. Our event has proven successful, yet it is a bit of a struggle every year to get everyone on board. Logistically, if you work with the right people, everything runs smoothly; but there is always a chance that something unintended happens. Of course there are many more upsides, for example, this year a talented entrepreneur will be joining our event as a vendor. She is a designer and hasn’t had an opportunity like this to market herself. I just know we will make a difference to her business, which makes my team and me very happy. When you see and hear these kinds of positive reactions to your event, all the initial struggles are worthwhile!

Why should we women come out to SXM’s Girls Night Out?

You should come to our event because you will have a great time! You will be surrounded by friends, or make some new ones while you shop, sip, savour and pamper yourself. Dozens of vendors will be selling your favourite products and might introduce you to some new ones you will fall in love with. You will be sampling delicious cocktails and snacks while you enjoy an array of entertainment. There will also be mini-massages and mini-makeovers for those who want to relax. There will also be special workshops for those who want to learn and be inspired. It is a perfect night out for women to leave all the stress of the world behind! Oh, and there are many surprises too!

Surprises?! What kind of surprises?

It is our fifth anniversary – quite a milestone – so we will be giving away many prizes throughout the night. Besides all of the swag filled bags given to the first 600 women and the goodies you can win throughout the event; we will also have three GRAND prizes! By buying your ticket to SXM’s Girls Night Out, you will automatically enter a raffle. First prize is a Caribbean Cruise for two; second prize is a stay at a hotel on the island and third is a cash prize. For just $30 admission, you have a chance to win these and more!

If you could have three people over for dinner, dead or alive, who would they be, what would you serve them and what would you discuss with them?

I would have Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama and Beyoncé; I would serve a hot goat cheese salad with baguette and butter on the side as the appetizer, lobster in a cream sauce served with rice pilaf for the entrée and a cup of vanilla ice-cream wrapped in a crepe and topped with a creamy rum sauce and whipped cream. We would discuss being women with a dream, the journey to achieving our dreams and the things we had to give up to accomplish them. I would love to hear their stories on juggling being a woman, a partner/wife, a mother and an entrepreneur.

See you at SXM’s Girls Night Out on Saturday, June 3! Bring your friends, sisters and mom out for a great time. Come shop, sip, savour and be pampered. Contact info: www.sxmgirlsnightout.com, 1 (721) 527-8660 or info@sxmgirlsnightout.com

Fernando Clark will be hosting this year’s Laugh Till Belly Burst Comedy Show which is set for Saturday, June 10, at Princess Port de Plaisance. Clark tells us why he went on board as host again this year, about his life as a comedian and a bit about what fans can expect from him.

Who is Fernando Clark?

That’s a very interesting question. I am the fourth of five children. I have one brother living in St. Maarten and the rest are in the USA (with Donald Trump). As for who I am, I am the person that you hear on the radio in commercials and on talk shows. I am the face you saw as a presenter of the nightly AVS News. I am the person you see as the Master of Ceremonies for various events on the island. I am the guy who makes you laugh. I am no stranger to the St. Maarten community.

How would you describe yourself?

Easy going, like a lot of fun and laughter; but when it comes to my work, that is when I put on my serious hat. There are two sides to me, the fun and laughter side and the serious side. Sometimes I mix the serious and the fun; but when I have to, I keep them separated.

Education?

All my schooling was done in Aruba where I was born and I actually graduated with the subjects biology, chemistry and mathematics. But after school, I went into banking and finance. I worked in banking for 36 years and followed many banking and financial courses, so I always considered myself to be a banker. I also did some courses in communication and marketing. I combined all of them and created a product called Fernando Clark.

When did you discover your love for comedy?

Early in secondary school – I was asked to be the MC for school activities. But even before that, I enjoyed making people laugh. I loved to entertain. Then when I came to St. Maarten, I continued the trend. But it was during my school days that I actually discovered that I had what it takes to make people laugh. In those days, comedy was not as big as it is now, so people referred to a comedian as a payaso, which is Spanish for clown. So to aspire to be a comedian back then was not a big thing. Parents didn’t feel proud to introduce their child as “Meet my son, the clown.”

How did you get into the industry professionally?

There were people who kept telling me that I can do it; and they organised the first stand-up comedy show in St. Maarten. Entrance was free. The hall was packed and thereafter we did more shows. But it was my Fernando Clark RAW CD that got me to the Apollo Theatre in New York, and after that, it was smooth sailing. That was back in 1995. After that, I received invitations to perform in other countries. And that is when I started using my talent professionally.

What do you love about comedy?

Laughter is like a medication. It releases stress. I feel like a doctor when I make people laugh. Sometimes I encounter angry people and after making them laugh, they are a different person. If I can make people happy, release their stress and tension, then I feel that I have in some way contributed to somebody’s wellbeing. Could you imagine how life would be if there was no laughter? No comedy? I also love to hear a good joke. I love to laugh too, so I enjoy being entertained.

Why did you decide to host the LTBB comedy show?

For the opportunity to work with comedians from different countries. Imagine, we have a comedian from Africa. It will be fun working with him. I am sure he will bring a completely different style of comedy to St. Maarten. Each one has different styles and ways of bringing comedy across. So, it will be a mixture of good comedy. I definitely want to be a part of that.

What would you say to encourage others to come out to watch the show?

Miss LTBB? Are you crazy or insane? Be there. Come and release your stress, and actually laugh till your belly burst… Right now, comedy is one of the highest paying professions in the world. In Jamaica for instance, comedy shows outdo dance hall and hip hop parties. Don’t miss LTBB. Release the stress!

What do you think should be done to further promote local comedians in St. Maarten?

Many people think it is easy. Once they start and realise the work involved and the commitment it needs, they drop out. But St. Maarten has many great talented potential comedians. They need to be motivated and eventually compensated for their talent. But it starts with the individual person. We should not rely on others to pave the road for us, we have to make that first step.

What inspires you when it comes to creating your funny material?

Society. I look around, see funny things and write it in such a way to make people laugh and wonder: “How he came up with that?” In my last one-man stand-up comedy, I took the challenge to do a part about funerals. That was a challenge, but it was successful. Can you imagine people laughing about funerals? Those are the kinds of challenges that inspire me.

What, if anything, is off limits when it comes to comedy for you? And what issues would you say generally make the best jokes?

Unlike many other comedians, I don’t curse. Many of them use sexual jokes, I try as much as I can to keep away from that. But there is nothing that I consider off limits. Family matters, politics and relationships make good topics.

What’s next for Fernando Clark the comedian?

On September 30, I will do a long awaited one-man stand-up comedy. You will hear more about that after LTBB.

If you could invite three persons (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be and what would you serve them?

If I have to invite them one at a time, it would be the late Dr. Claude Wathey, Vance James Jr. and Eldridge Van Putten, separately. That way, I know there would be no fighting. I would serve them KFC. If I had to invite three people together, I would invite The Mighty Sparrow, Paul Keens Douglas and King T-Mo. I know we would have a great conversation and lots of fun. I wouldn’t serve anything. T-Mo is a great chef, he would knock up something for them to eat.

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