Tourism invitation with island spirit
Content submitted by – Lili
Submited Date : 28/06/2018
Jean Baptiste Hortere, known as Batista, Seychelles

My name is Jean Baptiste Hortere, and this is my story… My story, the story of Jean Baptiste Hortere, is popularly known in Seychelles as Batista a young boy from a small village in Mahé, Seychelles’ principal island, who made good. I was born in 1953 and I started from humble beginnings in the small village of Takamaka in the rural south of Mahé, where I grew up in a family of four sisters and three brothers and where my parents worked on a coconut plantation. First attending primary school in Takamaka, I continued my education in the nearby town of Anse Royale before entering in 1972 as a kitchen helper in Mahé Island’s Reef Hotel situated at Anse aux Pins. After one year, I was promoted to the position of assistant cook, gaining valuable experience as I was rotated through various departments. In 1977, I left Seychelles to work in a hotel in England’s Isle of Wight, going on to follow a maritime course in Bretagne, France, after which I became employed as cook aboard the vessel, Aldabra, which was the first tuna fishing vessel ever to fish in Seychelles waters, soon returning to France to bring yet another tuna fishing vessel to the islands. Despite my success and varied experiences, I always dreamed of opening my own restaurant. Mingling with tourists in Seychelles had shown me the kind of experiences they were seeking and in my next career move, I set about supplying exactly that. I consider myself very in touch with the spirit of tourism, and with the kind of experience we should be offering. Perhaps it is because of my simple upbringing and the fact that I have had to work hard to achieve what I have, that for me there is no need to embellish the Seychelles experience. We are blessed with such natural beauty and unique attributes that, in my opinion our tourism offerings need to flow from those things in the most direct and genuine way possible. That was the inspiration behind my decision to start small – grilling fish caught in my own fish traps for tourists in true Seychellois island-style. First, I would bring the fish to shore and clean them on the nearby granite rocks adorning this magnificent strand before serving them to my clients in banana leaves with a side-salad of palmist, the heart of the coconut palm, and a serving of coconut water. This proved to be a winning formula and soon I had people coming to my Chez Batista restaurant straight from the airport. This same way of doing things has allowed me to expand from six rooms and a rustic restaurant to 18 rooms today, a staff of 20 and room for 300 diners. I have enjoyed good support over the years from family, friends, and especially from my trusty chef of 18 years, Agnes Raoul. Together, we carved this business out of the soul of the countryside, treating our tourists and the locals looking to a grand variety of Seychellois Creole dishes to be enjoyed, at the water’s edge by one of Seychelles’ most stunning beaches. Reflecting back on what has been achieved, I am proud to have been able to offer a well-rounded service which reflects the beauty of Seychelles, its authenticity and its Creole soul. It’s a service, after all, that takes me back to my roots in the rural south of the island. I’m doing what I know, where I belong. I don’t think you can ask for more than that. I hope to be able to carry on providing a soulful service which introduces my clients to the very best that our islands have to offer: fine Seychellois Creole cuisine served against a backdrop of awesome natural beauty and genuine hospitality. My dream continues to come true and I hope I can keep living it for a long time to come.