The Night We Found A Real Treasure In Aruba

by | Mar 18, 2019 | Food and Drink

Buccaneer – Aruba’s Greatest Chef

Life is about stories … so, let me tell you a delicious one.

We came to the Island of Aruba with detailed plans for visiting some of the best venues on the island.  Turns out we hit upon one of the very best our first night there.  After a short walk from our Holiday Inn Resort hotel on a warm Aruba night, we arrived at Buccaneer Restaurant.

With strong ratings across the web, we were excited to learn why this family-friendly restaurant was a go-to for many vacationers and residents across the island. We were immediately impressed. The inside of Buccaneer Restaurant was a warm and friendly environment; a live fish tank and unique nautical decor created an island vibe that Boston travelers crave during winter travels.

But the real heart and soul of Buccaneer Restaurant did not come from its visually appealing decor. It came from the kitchen; more specifically, it came from the man responsible for the delicious food and the passionate personality of this incredible venue.

Upon arrival, we were told to wait just a moment before being seated.  Then a booming voice came from the depths of the kitchen. “Shannon Fairweather … You don’t reply to your emails!” (#fakenews).  The voice came from a smiling figure who quickly appeared in the kitchen doorway.  We soon learned that the voice belonged to Chef James W. Rogan, a master of his craft and lover of storytelling.  I can say with utmost certainty that we shared his love for both his stories and his food!  He approached us with a happy smile and gave us a genuine – One Happy Island – welcome.  The night was off to a fantastic start!

We were welcomed to our table with one of the sweetest cocktails the island had to offer, an incredible Pomegranate Martini, and settled in for some exclusive time with Chef James. After exchanging jokes and a few life stories, he presented us with a challenge.  “So, you think you can eat, huh?”  Needless to say, we were more than happy to accept that challenge!  After 13 hours of travel from Boston to Aruba and only having munched on a few granola bars that day, we were famished and more than ready to eat!  So we assured Chef James that were ready to eat and the night rolled into a culinary adventure!  Five minutes later, Chef James returned with a beautiful platter of food.

While the dishes I am about to describe were truly amazing, it was Chef James warm and welcoming approach that fed our souls and left a lasting impression us. The way he bounded out of his kitchen and took the time to welcome and talk with us – fully determined to make a couple of Bostonians nights one of the best we’ve ever had – was remarkable.  After setting the platter of food before us, it was clear that this was going to be a very special meal.  And it was.

Here’s a quick rundown of what we enjoyed at Chef James’ Buccaneer Restaurant: Pineapple Habanero Scallops, Bam-Bam Shrimp, Fresh Herb Broiled Chilean Sea Bass, and the most uniquely incredible Portobello Mushroom Fries that Chef James whipped up special just for us.

When he finally returned to the table, we were eager to know more about his background, so I asked him how long he had been cooking.  “38 years,” he proudly responded.   Those 38 years had served him – and his diners – well.  Everything about this dinner was perfection. No ingredient went into a dish without purpose.  Nothing overdone; simple, but not lacking. Flavors melded together perfectly and turned each dish into culinary masterpieces.

Chef James’ history in the kitchen, without a doubt, has helped him to consistently craft creative, top-quality meals.  But he has not been on Aruba his entire career.   James W. Rogan hails from the Northeast, just like us.  He grew up in Connecticut but has been working and running restaurant kitchens for nearly 40 years in cities like San Diego, Los Angeles, Seattle, Salt Lake City and the U.S. Virgin Islands with more than two decades of culinary experience with Marriott Hotels.  He’s been part of the Buccaneer family for more than 3 years and has made a HUGE impact in both the kitchen and in EVERYBODY’S hearts.  
As their website describes, he loves Twinkies and making jokes. However, he is serious about his work and determined to make all diner’s experiences at Buccaneer one they will never forget.  You can find him every night on the Buccaneer dining floor making sure everyone is enjoying their meals.  He is – by far – the Buccaneers biggest Treasure!

As stuffed as we were from dinner, Chef James remained steadfast with his challenge and quickly came out with what he described as “orgasmic” desserts.  We bowed to the pressure!  The hand made Fried Oreo Cheesecake was next level amazing.  Chef James paired that with a freshly baked chocolate cookie which satisfied our sweet tooth well into next year!

It was a sweet way to end a deliciously memorable and meaningful night on Aruba. The food was only surpassed by the bond we made with Chef James W. Rogan.  After experiencing his culinary finesse and charismatic persona, we immediately named him The Greatest Chef on Aruba and decided that his Buccaneer Restaurant one of the best on the island.  Chef James brings his extensive culinary background in seafood, steaks and Italian cuisine to this famous venue which is one of Aruba’s oldest family owned and operated restaurants.  Not only does Buccaneer serve up some of the best and largest portions of locally caught lobster, shrimp, seafood, as well as Chicago steaks, racks of lamb, duck and pastas, but they also make you feel welcomed and loved by both the Chef and the food.

Buccaneer Restaurant is also the only Aruba restaurant that allows children to explore behind the scenes to check out the turtles, quail and even feed the fish as they swim in the gigantic 18.000 gallon tanks.  After experiencing Buccaneer Restaurant first hand and connecting with Chef James, I can say with utmost certainty that when vacationing in Aruba, Buccaneer Restaurant is a must-visit venue and one of the best places to eat, explore and engage with one of the happiest islands I have yet to experience.