Mathayom Vacharat is the owner and head chef at Mathayom Private Chefs and St. John Catering and has been a resident of St. John since 1995, moving from Philadelphia after graduating Drexel University with a Business degree. Mat then attended the Graduate Program at the School of Hard Knocks, studying Improvisation. Opening the business in 2004, his experience as executive chef at premier fine dining restaurants on St. John lends his cuisine a breadth of influences ranging from Asian fusion to progressive American to Caribbean flair.
Mat is committed to sourcing fresh local product as he and his team of talented chefs create custom menus based on seasonal availability. He and his chefs support the Gifft Hill School’s EARTH Program, sourcing much of their local product from the student-run gardens. This approach breeds an innate flexibility when approaching vegetarian, raw food, and other restricted diet menus; as well as creating custom menus for clients interested in an “island to table” approach.
In 2016, Chef Mat and his team began executing Full Moon Dinners at their modest catering venue, changing the theme every month and collaborating with local distributors to create the perfect drink pairings for the multi-course affairs (Full Moon Dinners will resume later this year). Continuing with the theme of fresh and local, they have cultivated and maintained a small garden, drawing product from it whenever possible, and are the first business on St. John to become Reef Responsible certified.
Shelly McElligott is the Kitchen Manager for St. John Catering & Mathayom Private Chefs, and will take over the kitchen in our new space at the former Fish Trap once opened this spring. She is also the luckiest team member having moved to St. John only four days before Hurricane Irma hit in September 2017. But along with her superb cooking skills Chef Shelly also brought with her an amazing can-do attitude and positive outlook and rode out the 2017 hurricane season with flair establishing herself as a vital member of the Cruz Bay community where she currently resides.
Chef Shelly went to culinary school in St. Louis where she was trained in classic French technique, but she really earned her culinary chops in the Middle East where she lived and worked for almost a decade. Her culinary style reflects the influences of Northern Africa, India, and Middle Eastern flavors as well as her new-found love of local, Caribbean ingredients like tamarind and barrel cactus fruit. Chef Shelly loves creating new recipes that draw on her flavor memories from the Middle East and combining them with classical techniques to give new life to traditional dishes. “It’s like finding new treasure,” Chef Shelly said about creating new dishes that allow her to share her culinary experiences with someone new.
Since returning from abroad Shelly worked on the mainland at boutique hotels, James Beard nominate restaurants, and as a private chef in Austin before moving to St. John. Now on island she enjoys reading, scuba diving, and the numerous white sand beaches around St. John where she starts every day with quiet meditation.
Briana Lopez is the Beverage Director for St. John Catering & Mathayom Private Chefs, and will be the Bar Manager at our new location in the former Fish Trap restaurant once opened this spring. She attended school in Florida but has worked across America from Maine to St. John. And with almost a decade of professional experience working in bars, breweries, and distilleries; Briana’s background has given her intimate knowledge of both how product is made and how best to highlight its unique features in a drink.
Briana’s beverage style focuses on simple recipes, fresh juices, and quality ingredients which is perfectly matched with Head Chef Mathayom Vacharat’s island to table mentality. Briana is also known for crafting unique wellness mocktails and her superb ability to create and craft original, seasonal cocktails. Her skills have been highlighted in tastings with the Portland Spirit Society as well as charitable events she’s worked with James Beard Award winning chefs like the Fabulous Femmes dinner that benefited the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital.
Mary Bourassa is the Office Administrator for Mathayom Private Chefs and St. John Catering (soon to be located out of the old Fish Trap restaurant in Cruz Bay). She was raised in Colorado where she also went to school earning both her bachelor’s and master’s in journalism and communication. After graduating from the University of Colorado Mary worked in television for several years in both master control for a local Denver station and later the marketing department.
However, for her 27th birthday Mary quit her job and spent the next few years following her passion for traveling. She backpacked through Central America spending time in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and Belize. After Central America she moved north spending a season in the Rocky Mountain National Park where she met and married her husband Josh. The two then spent several years China where they taught English as a second language before taking time to explore south-east Asia.
In 2015 Mary moved to St. John bringing with her everything learned from a decade of travel and her personal passion for discovering new places and meeting new people. When she’s not at work you can find Mary soaking in the rays on one of St. John’s many white sand beaches or volunteering for one of the numerous amazing non-profit groups still working in Coral Bay to clean up and rebuild St. John after the devastating 2017 hurricane season.