The odds are good that at least 50 per cent of the people you meet will want to visit Thailand in their lifetime… or Hong Kong for that matter. Saejao ‘Allen’ (for those of us Westerners who can’t pronounce her first name) Chuleerat has gone in the opposite direction. She started off in Asia and made her way to the Caribbean, gaining a lot of job experience as she went.
Allen was born in Chiang Mai, Thailand, but her family moved to Hong Kong when she was twelve years old. To say it was a difference in pace is an understatement. Hong Kong is an energetic city that moves at a head-spinning pace. Allen absolutely loved it from moment one!
She completed high school and went straight into an apprenticeship programme at a hotel where she worked as a server for nearly two years. Once she gained her certification she went out into the business world and actually got a job in a different field – working for a marketing company in their international sales division. It was fine for a while, but she missed the buzz of the service industry so it wasn’t long before she was right back in the thick of things. She got a position at the popular Chilli N Spice restaurant, but it wasn’t until she joined the staff at Joe Bananas that she finally got her chance to work behind the bar. What followed were many years honing her skills at various venues, creating drinks and recipes that gained her a loyal following. Her last employer was the well-known Igor’s Group that owned many establishments throughout Hong Kong. It was at this time that she fortuitously met a friend who had just left the Cayman Islands. Maybe she should consider the Caribbean and a change of pace?
In 2009 Allen flew to Grand Cayman with a job ready for her at the Legendz/Eats/Yoshi’s trio of restaurants. She then went on to Osetra Bay with part-time work at Tiki Beach, and finally in May 2011 got the position of bartender full-time at the latter. Her winning smile can be found at Tiki Beach on a daily basis as she mixes the most fabulous martinis, enjoying her unrivalled view of Seven Mile Beach.
Allen loves perfecting new drink recipes, meeting happy customers, and revelling in what she considers to be the most beautiful bar on the island. With its high roof and flowing white curtains, not to mention the cabanas overlooking the sand, it’s difficult to argue with her. This lady’s infectious personality will draw you in, and her skill with a drink shaker will bring you back for more. Go and visit Allen (try saying “Saejao” – I dare ya) sometime this week and try one of her fabulous beverages. You may not need to visit Thailand after all – she’s brought the best of it here to Cayman! WH
Lemon Basil Martini
1½ oz Grey Goose Vodka
½ oz Limoncello
Fresh Lemon Juice
Dash of Simple Syrup
3 Basil leaves
Pour all ingredients, including Basil leaves, into shaker with ice. Shake liberally and strain into martini glass. Garnish with Basil leaf and Lemon peel twist.