A Personal Taste of Exuma w’ Private Chef Renauldo Coakley

Chef Renauldo shares a bit about his international culinary adventures and treats us to his recipe for authentic Peas Soup & Dumplings

Chef Renauldo Coakley currently calls picturesque Exuma his home, where he works as a private chef and specializes in creating personalized culinary experiences for diners. In addition to enjoying the stunning views of turquoise waters and powder-fine white sand beaches of the island, Chef Renauldo loves the ability he has to travel and meet new people, while creating flavour packed dishes. Private Chefs, like Renauldo, can afford diners the ability to enjoy unique and flexible menus that include authentic, creative and memorable dishes. 

The Young Baker: Chef Renauldo was just 8 years old when his Aunt Rose gave him his very first cookbook - a copy of a Betty Crocker collection of recipes. He recalls baking something simple during his first foray into the kitchen but was so inspired by his family’s encouragement that he decided to continue learning and growing as a budding chef. “They loved it!” he recalls with a smile. And, from that moment on, Chef Renauldo developed a passion for cooking and baking, that resulted in the creation of his very own small baking business that same year - he recalls brownies and rich, chocolatey Black Forest Cakes being his best sellers.

His Aunt Rose, the same aunt who had given him his first cookbook, worked in the tourism field and would also inspire Chef Renauldo’s love for travel. He recalls that his first major international trip was to Europe when he was 12, and he quickly realized that he absolutely loved experiencing new cultures, sites, sounds and, of course, cuisine.

The Globetrotting Chef: Since his days as an inquisitive young baker, Chef Renauldo has travelled, cooked, and tasted his way around the world, having worked in kitchens around the United States, Canada, Europe and The Bahamas, where he has proudly served as an Executive Chef for a number of years. He notes that France is one of his favourite places to visit, especially the country’s southern regions, but outside of The Bahamas, he has had some of his fondest memories cooking throughout North America.

The Avid Learner: Chef Renauldo notes that he doesn’t just have a passion for constantly growing and evolving as a chef, but he also loves learning. In addition to being fluent in several languages, including Spanish and French, he has long had a deep love of science, especially physics and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in agriculture due to his interest in food sustainability and the advancement of the Bahamian agricultural community. Inspired by California’s Napa Valley, where he visits frequently, he also hopes to one day merge his culinary, scientific and agricultural skills to create his very own winery.

The Risk Taker: Chef Renauldo’s culinary career has been anything but ordinary, and his journey as a chef has been an exciting and far reaching one. He credits Japanese Chef Masaharu Morimoto as a culinary expert whom he greatly admires because of his creativity and risk taking in the kitchen, which has inspired him to do the same.

Check out Chef Renauldo’s version of Peas Soup and Dumpling, which is a hearty Bahamian soup, below.

Peas Soup Recipe

1 lb Salt Beef, diced

1 lb Conch, tenderized

1 lb Ham, cut up

2 lbs Ribs, cut up

¼ cup Vegetable Oil

¼ Onion, small dice ½ Sweet Pepper, small dice

1 stick of Celery, small dice

¼ Tomato, soft, small dice

4 Sprigs of Thyme, dried

1 tbsp Browning

4 tbsps Tomato Paste

1 Pigeon Peas in coconut milk

4 qts Water, or as needed

2 Goat Pepper, minced

1 cube or 2 tbsps Chicken Base

1 Sweet Potato, medium dice

1 Cassava, medium dice 

Dumplings

3 cups Flour

1 tbsp Baking Powder

½ tsp Salt

2 tbsps Vegetable Oil

½ cup Water, room temperature 

Method of Preparation

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together.  Using a fork, blend in the vegetable oil, mixing until well incorporated.  Mix in the water.  Adjust as necessary, water and flour, to achieve the right elastic consistency - not too dry and not too wet.  Knead the dough for 5 minutes, until you can stick your finger into the dough, and it leaves a slight imprint and doesn’t spring back.  Set aside to rest until needed. 

In a small pot, add twice the amount of water needed to cover the salt beef, bring to a boil, and cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Drain off the water, saving it for later, and set aside the salt beef. 

Preheat the soup pot and vegetable oil, on medium high heat.  Brown the ribs for 2 minutes on each side, for color.  Remove from the pot and set aside.  

Reheat the pan, and add the onions, sweet pepper, celery, tomato, salt beef, and thyme.  Cook until soft and caramelized (soft brown - not burnt), for about 5 minutes.  Add the tomato paste, and browning. Let it cook for an additional 3 minutes for a richer, deeper colour.  Add the pigeon peas in coconut milk, the goat pepper, the RESERVED water from the salt beef, topped off with additional water.  Add the chicken base, ribs and ham.  Bring to a boil, until the ribs are tender and falling off the bone.  Add the cassava and sweet potato.  Bring back to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  

Pinch off small pieces of the dough and spread it with your fingers until flat and wide - you may use a bit of flour to do this, so that it doesn’t stick to your fingers. Drop into the pot.  Do this repetitively, stirring as necessary, until the surface of the liquid is filled with dough. Add the conch. Cook until the cassava and sweet potato are tender.  

Adjust the seasoning, as necessary. 

And, enjoy.

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