“Nothing That is Worth it is Easy.” — A Conversation with Chef Maragh, Cellar8’s Executive Chef

Chef Maragh

Ramesh “Chef Maragh” Oliver Maragh was born on November 25, 1987, in Spanish Town, Jamaica. He is the Executive Chef of Cellar8 LTD in Jamaica. Chef Maragh claims that cooking came naturally and his father was his main inspiration. As a child, he would watch him prepare dinner for the family after work and in high school, he fell in love with cooking. Once he completed high school, Chef Maragh did a work exchange program in France and various courses with local and international culinary institutions. Thereafter, he ended up with a B.S.C. in Culinary Arts Management and a C.F.P. (Certified Flavour Profiler).

1. Where in Jamaica are you from?
I am from the historical city of Spanish Town, St. Catherine, Jamaica.

2. What is your philosophy for cooking?
My philosophy for cooking is: Don’t prepare anything that you would not serve to your kids. Your integrity is everything.

3. What are your favorite Jamaican foods in the restaurant you currently cook at?
The scotch bonnet and thyme crusted snapper is my favorite Jamaican dish currently on my menu.

4. What are some of your Jamaican fusion recipes?
I have done many a Jamaican fusion dish, including jerk pastas and oxtail lasagna to name a few. The one I am most proud of, though, is jerk beef short rib, with a red wine barbeque sauce, sweet, savory, spicy all wrapped into the most unexpected package. Trust me when I say, this one you will have to taste it to believe.

5. What are your favorite locations for lunch or brunch?
My favorite brunch/lunch location is most definitely my place, Cellar8. The food we produce is exceptional.

6. What is your favorite meal of the day? What would you eat?
My favorite meal of the day is most definitely dinner. It is a special time, family time, and I love my family dearly. I might not always have the time to have dinner with them, but, when I do it is priceless. What I would eat? I’m real easy, give me a 12 oz ribeye medium rare. Oh man, I’ll be a happy camper.

7. What is your secret to success?
My secret to success is quite simple, work hard, work smart, show respect, and all will fall into place.

8. What do you consider a quintessential “Jamaican” food?
The quintessential Jamaican food for me is patties, beef, chicken, vegetable, whatever. It can’t get more Jamaican than patties.

9. What is your favorite spot to have an adult beverage/happy hour?
Having drinks with the boys, there’s only one place to go. You guessed it, Cellar8—amazing vibes, comfortable atmosphere, clean, and the prices are very good.

10. What is your favorite food indulgence?
Chocolate!!! Oh my God. Chocolate, literally the best thing since sliced bread!

11. Where do you go for a night out with friends?
A night out with friends, for me, is getting the guys together, staying home, cold beers, jerk pork and playing call of duty all night.

12. If you were stuck on a deserted island, what is the one food you couldn’t live without?
I could not live without chocolate, it would be too hard.

13. What is a movie you never get tired of watching?
I never get tired of watching Fury. It’s weird. For me, it’s like my kitchen on a busy night.

14. Who was your hero when you were growing up?
Growing up my heroes were my parents. They are the very definition of hard work and humility.

15. Thanks for your time. Any closing words?
In closing, I just want to reach out to young cooks, nothing that is worth it is easy. Respect and hard work will get you there. Believe in your talent. Believe in yourself.

Be sure to visit Cellar8’s website and Instagram to learn more.

Photo Courtesy: Cellar8’s Instagram

About the author

Calibe Thompson

Jamaican born TV host, producer and director Calibe Thompson is Head Dread at Blondie Ras Productions, creators of “Taste the Islands”, “The Caribbean Diaspora Weekly”, “Miami Fitness TV” and other terrestrial and web based series broadcast regionally throughout the Caribbean, US and Canada. She is also an opinion columnist for the South Florida Times, voiceover professional and on-camera personality. Thompson’s mission is to continue to showcase the best of Caribbean culture to the wider world.