Well-traveled and well known as an expert on Caribbean cuisine and international influences from many other regions, Chef Matt Boland has been bringing back global inspiration to his adopted home of Aruba for the past two decades. His expertise and affable personality also has had him representing the Aruba Tourism Authority on the culinary front in travel trade shows around the world. A native of New York, he began his career as a dishwasher and made his way up to an award-winning celebrated chef after studies in Paris learning to master the art of French cooking.
Divi Resorts management spotted him and they lured him to come and work at what was then the Divi Aruba Beach Hotel. That was 20 years ago. He never went home. Since then Boland has made a name for himself on island at many resorts, and now, he has been called to Divi once again. In fact, they created a position that never existed before just for him! Now, as Divi Resorts’ new “Regional Executive Chef”, Boland will be in charge of food and beverage operations for the company’s more than twenty restaurants at its properties on Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, St. Croix and St. Maarten. So let’s chat with Chef Boland!
What will this new job entail- will you still have as much time in the actual kitchen?
"Yes! Still in the kitchen! Testing, tasting menu ideas… my idea of fun, fun, fun!"
What’s the first thing you are going to do?
"Elevate service, quality, value and experience."
Tell us about the “Pure” concept you developed for Divi restaurants.
"‘Pure’ was developed to be focused on fresh whole non-processed foods and sustainable seafood with each island incorporating its own twist and adapting local talents and local ‘soul/comfort’ foods ingredients."
Healthier eating is trending these days; will you be adding more health conscious choices to your menus?
"We’ve already been promoting healthy lifestyle eating. And I’ve been involved with PACO Pan American conference against childhood obesity, and I also work with the IBISA Institute Bibda saludable Aruba to teach school kids to cook and eat healthy, grow their own vegetables and also introduce better eating habits in our cafeterias and at home. And I always like to ensure we have tasty dishes for those with dietary restrictions as well such as food allergies. Also, gluten free, vegetarian and even vegan cuisine doesn’t have to be boring… ever!"
What has been your best reward in your chosen field?
"The joy of seeing so many colleagues and students learn and grow in this business. Immersing in other cultures, learning respect for different languages and customs, enjoying new experiences and then using all of that to create new dishes!"
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing?
"I would be working with children to teach them how to cook, swim, and snorkel!"
Why do you feel so at home on Aruba?
"The Aruban people are so friendly they adopted me! Taught me their customs, shared family moments with us, and then became family to us! Sure this island is a paradise, but it really is the people. Their attitude is special. There’s no other place like it in the world."
Do you have one tip to give home cooks?
"Yes! Experiment! Be creative, stray from the recipes, trust your gut, be confident and most importantly… have fun!"
Congratulations on your new appointment Matt, we can’t wait to try some of your new recipes at all the Aruba Divi resorts this year! Visit: www.diviresorts.com.