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Hotseat - Natalee Witter

749_hotseat~ 'St. Maarten's Mix Master' ~

Natalee Witter is better known as Trudy. She works as Bartender at Taloula Mango's on the Boardwalk in Philipsburg and will prepare your drink to perfection with just the right amount of alcohol, mixer and lovely garnish to suit your taste. When not sure of what you fancy at the moment, she'll be able to recommend the right drink for you.

You might also remember Trudy from her Sunset Beach Bar years, where she also worked as a waitress and bartender. Sunset Beach is known for its many events and is of course one of the world's best plane spotter venues, and Trudy was already was one of their best bartenders and loved by all of her customers.

Trudy has just claimed the title of St. Maarten's Mix Master Challenge winner. Her now famous "Taloula Chocolate Delight" winning drink contains Amaretto, Baileys and more. It may be said that Trudy's claim to fame is from this fabulous drink. However, with her wonderful smile, her disposition and just overall lovely personality, you'll enjoy the experience of visiting her at Taloula's Bar and ordering your favourite drink.

Where were you born? Tell me a little about where you grew up.

I was born in Spanish Town – St. Catherine – Jamaica. St. Catherine being the old capital of Jamaica, it is a wild place and the home of great music, reggae in particular. It's also where Dance Hall gained its fame. Music has united the people in rough times, in St. Catherine's this is very tangible.

Where did you go to school?

I went to Old Harbour High School in St. Catherine's. I chose the Food and Nutrition Stream. We were taught Food and Beverage Production as well as Food Service. We were also introduced to Mixology; I preferred the food service over the bar at the time. That has changed over the years and I am now definitely a bartender over a server. I came to St. Maarten to live in 2003. I had been here before on vacation, as my mother lived here for many years. I came to visit her and after I finished high school, I decided to join her here in St. Maarten.

Where do you currently work? What is your profession?

I currently work at Taloula Mango's in the Blue Bitch Bar as a bartender, but I also help in the service. We are busy in the day with cruise ship passengers. I in particular like Friday nights, this is the evening during which we get the locals who come in and enjoy the happy hour. They celebrate the weekend with each other, and their children enjoy playing on the beach and riding their bicycles on the boardwalk.

You won the Mix Master Competition; tell us something about this.

I was signed up by Taloula's owner Norman, to participate in this reality show. Together with all participating bartenders, I met with Dwane and Kevin who gave us a briefing on the show and what would be expected of us. I experienced the event as very exciting and challenging. I felt very much like the underdog in the beginning, and to my surprise, I ended up becoming the Great Mixmaster's Winner. The show was primarily filmed at the Roof Top Bar in Philipsburg where we competed every Friday for approximately three month. With the elimination of participants, the excitement was built and the urge to win grew. I totally enjoyed the experience.

Where did you learn to mix beverages?

Basically, I learned the art of mixing drinks in school. However, I perfected it at Sunset Beach Bar and now at Taloula Mango's. The true basics of bartending you learn in school; however, it's once you work in a bar that you start getting to make the fabulous drinks like Margaritas, Fuzzy Navel and Pina Colada with all their variations, etc. I've definitely learned to love this business.

Do you have children? How do you manage to balance your work with home?

Yes I have two children, Natoya and Nathan. I have rotating shifts that take some organizing between my husband and me, however, we make it work. Afternoon activities and my lovely aunt (who watches the kids) are my support when we are both working after school ends.

Besides working, do you have any other hobbies or interests? Give us a description of a regular day in your life.

My children and husband are who I spend my spare time with after work. I cherish this time and try to include doing fun as well as educational activities while together. On my days off, I like to take my children to church, the beach and the movies – not necessarily in that order.

What are your ambitions for the future? Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

My ambitions are fully focused on my family. I hope to see my children grow up to become successful, first completing school and then following that through with college. Maybe not in the next 10 years, but in the distant future, I would love to run my own business. Not decided yet what type of business, but that is my ultimate dream.

If you could invite three famous people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be; what would be the one question you would ask and what would you serve them to eat?

President Obama - How do you experience being the first black president in the US?

Dr. S. D. James - Please tell me something about your travels to Israel.

Celine Dion - Where do you get your inspiration to write your beautiful songs?

I would serve them ackee and salt fish with provision, followed with my winning drink Taloula Chocolate Delight.