Executive Chef Conroy Arnold is a native of Jamaica, where he developed his love for traditional and contemporary island cuisine and fresh, local ingredients.
Following his move to New York, he received degrees in political science and African American studies from SUNY, and a degree from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. After climbing the culinary ladder at various renowned U.S. restaurants, Chef Conroy returned to Jamaica in 2010 to become executive chef at Golden Eye. Now at Christopher’s at Hermosa Cove, he leads his team in “feeding both appetites … and souls.”
Born and raised in Wait-a-Bit Trelawny, Chef Conroy remembers “watching my granny cook when I was a little boy, and running around in the yard, grabbing wood to make a fire for food.” From this humble start, “I built up, and I started cooking with my mum when I was 13.”
After graduating from the Culinary Institute, Chef Conroy trained in the demanding environment of high-end “yes chef, no chef” kitchens. His career got its first boost at Manhattan’s popular Tonic, driven by Chef Chris Geruadi, who perfected his skills under renowned chef Thomas Keller. Conroy then went on to serve as Sous Chef at the famed three-Michelin-star Nobu. At this iconic restaurant he developed his philosophy of cooking: special dishes based on clean flavors and fresh ingredients. Throughout his journey, Conroy has held fast to his “one real ultimate truth: to be passionate about cooking amazing food for amazing people.”
When Americans Deb and Clayton Korver were looking for someone to head the kitchen at Christopher’s, they spoke with Dennis McIntosh, the executive chef at Rio Neuvo Village. “We were confident in his recommendation” of Conroy Arnold, said Mrs. Korver, “as Dennis is very serious about Jamaican cuisine and using local produce.”
Chef Conroy and the Korvers, whom he describes as mentors, use “DNA” to describe their culinary foundation. The term refers to the pairing of garden-fresh ingredients with the bounty of the land and sea. Conroy describes his farm-to-table process: “We got these blossoms from the pumpkins last week, which I stuffed with a kingfish ratatouille. We take our scraps of vegetables and use that in a natural process of fertilisation; we smoke a lot of our meat – ribs, chicken, bacon; we make our own ice cream; we basically try and keep everything fresh and simple.”
Conroy’s creations have been celebrated in Travel and Leisure, Food Arts Magazine, and Conde Nast. In 2011 Chefs Conroy and Dennis McIntosh took the Silver Medal at the Americas Food and Beverage show in Miami. In 2014 Conroy has been nominated for the Table Talk Food Award, and he received the 2014 Jamaica Observer’s Rising Star Chef of the Year Award. Despite his accolades, Chef Conroy holds fast to his humble roots: “My present state of mind belongs in Jamaica. The culture is colorful and fresh. Time has come and gone and I am back in my yard, my garden.”