“A huge advantage of being here in St. Lucia is the year round growing season”, says Allen Susser, Consulting Chef at Jade Mountain Resort. A twisting back country road leads fromSoufriere, the closest village,traversingdeep forest andsteep cliffs overlooking the ocean and craggy jade colored peaks of Saint Lucia’s 2 signature mountains…Petit and Gran Piton.
Situated at the edge of a vast rainforest, Jade Mountain’s 650 acres include their Emerald Estate gardens blessed with perfect growing conditions fueled by strong tropical sun and intense spurts of rain moderated by the Caribbean Sea’s trade winds.
James Beard Award winning Chef Allen’s highly regarded obsession with mangoes is immediately apparent after talking with him for just a few moments. He did after all write The Great Mango Book outlining many of the 400 different mango varieties found across the globe with accompanying recipes. About 50 of these varieties, by the way, thrive all across St. Lucia's 238 square miles.
If you’re lucky enough to reserve a sanctuary during Jade Mountain’s Annual Mango Festival, you’ll get a grand tour of the mango groves on the Emerald Estate and achieve total mango immersion ranging from mango chutney making classes to the indulgence of mango body scrubs in Jade Mountain’s Kai en Ciel Spa.
When it's time to eat, watch out! Chef Allen along with Executive Chef Jonathan Deardon whip up dishes and drinks incorporating mangoes in every imaginable permutation...mango pancakes & coffee cakes for breakfast, entrees like mango wood grilled king fish, mango mousse cake garnished with mango infused caviar. And the evening wouldn't be complete without raising a mango martini to gracefully toast sunset views and spectacular stargazing on the rooftop Celestial Terrace.
Not to worry if your travel plans don't coincide with Mango Madness Festival held annually on the second week of June. Chef Allen regularly narrates tours of Emerald Estate Gardens throughout the year. "Our gardens provide us with the bulk of our ingredients used in our kitchens. Our passion here at Jade Mountain is to share this unique farm-to-table experience with each and every guest", says Allen. You’ll find gardens brimming with fresh produce and orchards sagging with soursop, vanilla, cocoa pods, and of course Chef Allen's favorite...Julie mangoes!