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Hotseat - Etienne Rogers

794_OnA_HotseatIn the Hot Seat: Etienne Roger

Etienne Roger is a chemical engineer by training. He returned to his adopted St. Maarten in 2013 to help his parents run Amsterdam Cheese and Liquor Store at Dock Maarten Marina (near Chesterfields Restaurant) on Juancho Yrausquin Boulevard. Born in Curacao, Etienne relocated to St. Maarten with his parents, his twin and an older brother when he was a year old. He pursued his primary and secondary education in St. Maarten before moving to the Netherlands at age 18 to pursue his tertiary studies. He moved back to St. Maarten last year, two days before his 30th birthday, to help his parents build their business. He is currently engaged and has a three-year old son and a daughter on the way. Etienne describes himself as an easy going person, who likes to be around friends and family. He says he can be stubborn at times, but noted that he always means well. He is into animals and enjoys cooking. You can find him in the kitchen almost every day, making dinner for his family. He gives a glimpse into his life in this week's Hot Seat.

Where were you educated? What did you study and why?

I attended Sister Magda Primary School and Milton Peters College. I enjoyed chemistry. This was the main reason to further my studies in chemistry in the Netherlands. I attended TU Delft where I received my Master's Degree in chemical engineering within seven years.

What's the story behind Amsterdam Wine and Cheese?

St. Maarten was missing a Dutch store and especially a good selection of Dutch cheeses. My dad has been importing Dutch items to the island for years already, including Dutch cheeses. So he opened the store, which is a completely new experience for any customer coming to the store.

Bestselling cheese?

Old Amsterdam. This is a two-year old Gouda and has a nice distinctive flavour. On a cheese platter, this cheese is usually the first one to finish.

What is it about wine and cheese that people love?

People love to drink a glass of wine – wine is getting more and more popular – also because of the fact that people are more educated about wine, through various tastings; and because they want to finish the bottle (the next day, most wines are actually only good for cooking) and not get drunk, they need to snack a little. Cheese has a lot of healthy proteins; it tastes well and protects the stomach with a layer from the acids in the wine. Without realising all this, people just feel that cheese is good (and healthy) with wine.

What is your personal favourite cheese and wine and why?

My favourite cheese is the Old Amsterdam, served together with a nice port wine at room temperature.

What is it about this business/industry that you like?

It is a challenge. I did not choose this industry. It was my strong desire to return to St. Maarten after having worked several years with a very interesting multi-national company in the Netherlands. I resigned and, although I had been trying to get a job in my field in St. Maarten, nobody was interested. My father, who is in the cheese import business, however, was happy to offer me the manager position in this store he wanted to open, anyway.

What is a typical day on the job like for you?

Open the store just before 8:30am; check the temperature of the coolers; cut the samples (almost every cheese can be sampled) and make sure everything is clean. Ask the cow to walk outside and greet prospective customers. When they do come in, we offer everyone a piece of our famous Old Amsterdam cheese and explain to them (if they want us to) the interesting things about the various cheeses. At 5:30pm, we close the store. In between, I run sales analyses and try to optimize sales.

Happiest moment to date on the job?

My biggest sale two weeks ago! Who will create another happy moment for me soon?

How do you occupy yourself when you are not working?

Enjoying time with friends and family; cooking, especially barbecue; and super fun on the beach. I missed that while living in Holland.

Favourite pastimes?

I enjoy being active in various sports, such as judo and baseball, and entertaining my kid. I also enjoy playing Clover Jacket (a typical Dutch card game) and of course a nice tournament of domino is still attractive; watching a thriller movie – if I am able to stay awake.

Pet peeve?

Getting served warm beer, walking into spider webs and when my son touches my glasses.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Opening an additional store and partially working in the chemical engineering field again.

Biggest fear?

Swimming and being surprised by a shark.

What is your favourite type of music? What artistes do you listen to?

Old School reggae such as Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, etc. Music isn't made as it used to. Doesn't every generation say this?

If you could invite three famous people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be and what would you cook for them?

Nelson Mandela: the most forgiving and honest man who ever lived; I would serve him barbecued ribs. Julius Caesar: a master in strategy; I would serve him my well-known Rasta Pasta salad with chicken. Michael Jackson: greatest entertainer ever; I would serve him crab cakes and ti-punch.