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Characters of the Caribbean: Chef Digby Stridiron

Photo 6-23-14, 9 32 35 AM1. What is your favorite place on St. Croix and why?

Salt River Bay is the most important place to me.  Growing up in Mon Bijou, that’s where I went to the beach.  The history of St. Croix is there . . . the Columbus landing site, where the Taino Indians and Caribs lived.  The inspiration for the contemporary West Indian food at balter [the restaurant Stridiron co-owns] comes from that area, which is why I recently moved there.  I want to be able to see and smell what’s growing in the Salt River area every day, so that the season of the Caribbean is reflected in the food I make.

2. What is the most memorable experience you’ve had living on-island?

Too many to choose from . . . Learning to swim at Little Bay with my Mom.  Visiting Armstrong’s Ice Cream with my Dad.  Being welcomed home after winning Chef of the Year in New York [Stridiron was recognized as 2014 Chef of the Year during the Rum and Rhythm cook-off event, sponsored by the Caribbean Tourism Organization, held annually in New York].

Most recently, I am proud to confirm that St. Croix will host a third Friends of James Beard Benefit.  This makes our island the only place to host three of these events, and the exclusive location for which the James Beard Foundation has departed from hosting in the continental US.

3. In what ways do you enjoy giving back to your island community and which non-profits do you most like to support?

I give back my heart and soul back to St. Croix in any way I can.  Queen Louise Home for Children is a favorite organization as is Boys & Girls Club.

After graduating from St. Croix Educational Complex High School, I went straight into the military because I thought that was my only option.  No one ever spoke with me about how to get a college scholarship since I wasn’t a collegiate-level athlete.  So it’s important to me to show kids growing up on St. Croix they have career options and alternate paths to higher education.  That’s why balter is working with the DIAGEO Learning for Life program to give job shadowing experience to 20 teens this year.

I think the problems St. Croix has can be solved simply . . . let’s sit down at a table, break bread together and figure out how to make this community a better place.

4. What is the best piece of advice you can give someone new to St. Croix about making the leap to island life?

Enjoy it.  When you move to St. Croix you have to really move to St. Croix.  You can’t bring the ideology of another place.  Indulge yourself in our culture.  Once you understand life here, you’ll never be left wanting.  St. Croix is the kind of place where you can still safely hitch a ride.  People really live on this island.

5. Finish this sentence, “Caribbean Life is _______________.”

Irie [meaning: nice, good, or pleasing]

Digby Stridiron is Co-Owner and Executive Chef at balter (restaurant in Christiansted) and founder of The Stridiron Group (under which the West Indian Chef Alliance operates).  In his spare time he enjoys hiking and visiting the beach with friends.  Stridiron is the Culinary Ambassador of the U.S. Virgin Islands.  He was born and raised on St. Croix and has also lived in North Carolina and New York.  Stridiron graduated from Johnson & Wales with a concentration in baking and pastry arts.  He also served in The United States Air Force.

Digby Stridiron and Chris Hanley both grew up on St. Croix.  They share extensive knowledge of every corner of the island.  So when you’re ready to experience the finest Crucian food, head to Chef Digby’s restaurant balter.  When you’re ready to buy a St. Croix home, contact Chris.  As the top broker on-island year after year, he is the authority on Virgin Islands Real Estate.  Download Farchette & Hanley’s free St. Croix Event Guide:

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