Provisioning in SXM

24 November 2009 By Kelly Sanford
Photo by Michele Ferron

“I love provisioning in St. Maarten,” says Chef Kevin Towns. Known as “The Gourmet Capital of the Caribbean,” the island offers a wide array of provisioning possibilities.

The Supermarkets

Le Grand Marche: A majority of the yachts that visit St. Maarten will dock in Simpson Bay/Port de Plaisance. Le Grand Marche is about a mile or so away on Union Hill Road heading into Phillipsburg. Chef Randal Hughes says, “They carry just about everything a U.S. store carries.” But Chef Kevin warns that there can be fierce competition among chefs to get there first on delivery day and wipe out the best produce. If this is the case on your provisioning day, then try the second Le Grand Marche at the circle on Cay Hill Road.

On the French side of the island is the Match supermarket. Located in the Howell Bay Shopping Center, the Match has more European fare, which includes charcuterie, cheeses, specialty produce, gourmet condiments and baked goods.

Le Grand Marche and Match are the better supermarkets on the island, but there is also Le Supermarche on Lowlands Road heading into Marigot.

The Megamarket
If you need to buy bulk items, then visit the Cost-U-Less near the Grand Marche on Cay Hill Road. It also carries dry goods, fresh meat and produce.

Specialty Markets
Chef Joanne MacKenzie suggests a few boutique markets on the Island. The Gourmet Marche is located in Simpson Bay and is accessible by tender; by car, it’s on the road to Phillipsburg. It offers upscale provisions and gourmet items. Chef Joanne says, “About halfway between the Match and Marigot Marina is L’Epicerie de Marie, which has great produce, cheese and fish regularly flown in from Paris as well as caviar, pasta, olive oils and other specialty products. If you’re looking for specialty teas and excellent French pastries, try Hediard, a small café/gourmet shop that also carries items like candied fruit, chocolates and dry goods like jarred duck fat and pickled olives.” If you are looking for organic, vegan or vegetarian provisions, “I go to the Bioman, which is located at the shops by the ferry,” Chef Joanne says.

Market Day
Wednesdays and Saturdays are Market Day at the Marigot Waterfront. Don’t be put off by the carts of cheap souvenirs; stroll among the vendors and you will find fresh, locally grown produce (like mangoes, papayas, soursop, guavas, okra and guineps) and a fantastic selection of spices prepared using old-world traditions. Early in the morning, Anguillan fishermen will sell fresh fish from their small boats along the sea wall.

Using purveyors can be substantially more expensive than self-provisioning. Though many chefs have praised the local purveyors with their ability to make miracles happen, Chef Randal advises reserving their services for extreme circumstances. “The important thing to keep in mind when placing orders with provi$ioner$ [yes, he intentionally used dollar signs] is that they are relaying your order, which will be shipped from the U.S. or Europe. That will cost the boat or charter guest…whomever…and could very possibly cause your captain to FREAK.”

When circumstances require purveyor services, Chef Kevin says, “I [call] up Georgie with IGY Yacht Services [+ 599 544 2309] because she has always been very accommodating.”

“Aside from some poultry, sausages and basic meat that I can get from the supermarkets, I generally get most of my meat through Suzie Friedrich at Yacht Services [],” Chef Joanne says. “Suzie is also a chef, so she is very detailed and careful about quality and alternate products. She is not only super friendly, but [she] also provides crew placement and she is a great resource for local info.”