This Article Was Originally Published On May 19th 2017 By
Denaldo Bain & It Goes As Follows:
With The Addition Of Photos That Have Never Been Published.
Up to today none of the Chefs that were hired to work the Infamous Fyre Festival that was scheduled in the Bahamas April 27 - May 7, 2017 were paid. The Chefs were hired by a Local company Calling Themselves Cater Fyre. The Individuals heading this venture are Donna M. Williams Assistant Professor of Food Safety & Sanitation at the now University of the Bahamas, she also Trains Instructors to teach the Food Handling Course for the Ministry of Health & Environment, this course is a mandatory precursor for all individuals involved in Food Service. The Next Person Involved Is Chef Eldred Saunders also Assistant Professor of Baking & Pastry @ The University of The Bahamas. Thirdly Mrs. DeAnne Gibson Culinary Tourism, Ministry of Tourism & Aviation. It's my understanding that somehow The Fyre Festival Organizers Got caught up with DeAnne Gibson from Tourism, Donna Williams (Her Sister) From the University of The Bahamas & Chef Saunders who created the Cater Fyre Catering Company. Donna Williams and Chef Saunders used their positions In the Culinary School to seek out student chefs that are currently enrolled and some on their last year, Chef Lecturers from the college past & present, Former Graduates/Students From The College, Graduating Students from The University of The West Indies, as well as Administrative staff members to travel to Exuma and work this festival. Everyone they hired and took to Exuma have passed through the same institution of The Culinary School, all had the trust in the individuals who were in charge and although we had questions among ourselves these are the top professionals, They are not going to Con Us!
Throughout this Article I will insert Emails I received from Cater Fyre as is not edited.
Let’s start off with How the Communicated with us. Sunday April 23rd,
Chef Ellie Saunders
Sun, Apr 23, 2017 at 7:39 PM
Thank you for joining the Cater Fyre Team.
The confirmed dates for the events are Thursday, April 27 through to Sunday, May 7, 2017. As a member of our team we are requesting that you send us the name of your bank and branch, your bank account number and to confirm your t-shirt size and cellphone contact.
There will be a meeting on Monday, April 24, 6 pm at, Skyline Lakes (Residence of Donna Williams) to confirm accommodation and transportation to the Exuma Island. Please confirm if you have a health certificate by sending a WhatsApp image of it to (242) - 376-**** and if you do not have a health certificate please indicate this in your confirmation response. The dates of departure are Wednesday, April 26 in the morning and Thursday, April 27 in the afternoon. Please confirm that you have received this email.
It's the 24th the day of the meeting, all who are in attendance were mainly the Chefs and Students of The University Of The Bahamas along with Students from The University Of The West Indies. At this meeting we were told there would be Several Tents of Food Production. A Main Tent, A Garde Manger Tent, A VIP Tent and there were going to be other Food and Grill Stations throughout the event. Each Tent would have its own Head Chef the remaining Chefs, Students, Runners & Servers would be split into teams that would be responsible for the food production. We were told there were other teams ahead of us setting up the Kitchen, Electricians, Plumbers, Persons Stocking & Making sure the equipment were in place, Refrigeration, Hot Storage, Cutting Boards everything would be set up as a professional kitchen. We gave them our Bank Account Numbers as they assured us we would be paid by the next business day after each week, Of the 2- Week Long Festival.
Then came the Food Handlers Certificates, about 30 persons could be more did
not have valid Certificates but they were issued certificates by the Doctor who you would have to see once completed the course that is mandatory By The Ministry of Health & Environment. None of the Certificates Issued to Persons At the meeting on the 24th completed the mandatory course, but they did pay their $10.00 in Fees, required by the Government is $5.00. This was made possible by the clear abuse of power Donna Williams. as A Trainer In safe food Handling Practices, she should know better and quite frankly this is illegal. Certificates were issued at her residence in Skyline Lakes where the meeting was held. There was no confirmation on our Accommodations or our payment at the end of this meeting.
Earlier That same day on the 24th after the meeting there was another email that came through about accommodations followed by others dated and time stamped.
Chef Ellie Saunders
Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 12:01 PM
Due to unforeseen circumstances accommodation will be changed to bunk style for the first 4 days so it is advised that you pack twin sheets and towels for your stay in Exuma. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Following the meeting a few more emails were sent out as Follows Keep Track Of The Dates.
Chef Ellie Saunders
Wed, Apr 26, 2017 at 12:10 AM
Your will receive your flight information tomorrow.
Chef Ellie Saunders
Wed, Apr 26, 2017 at 12:23 AM
You will be updated about accommodations in the morning
Chef Ellie Saunders
Wed, Apr 26, 2017 at 3:33 PM
Please prepare for the flight 10am tomorrow at Bahamas air.
Chef Ellie Saunders
Thu, Apr 27, 2017 at 2:46 AM
Please be advised your flight is scheduled to leave the Jet Aviation airport at 10am. This means that you should be at the airport before that time.
A Group of Chefs including myself were on the first flight out on the 27th, we arrived in Exuma and got to the site by 12:30pm. The actual Festival Site was about 40% complete, when we arrived to our kitchen tent, The VIP tent was empty, and had no electricity, there was only the main tent set-up and another tent which turned into a Garde Manger tent. Nothing was ready, the electricians were still setting up so there was no electricity anywhere, no refrigeration other than the trailers of food supply on the outside, the equipment were not in place & there gas line was not completed so there was no cook station ready and that never got resolved until about 7pm and that was partially after we the Chefs Helped remove stoves and convection ovens that still did not work. There was no plumbing so no running water was available to us the whole day on Thursday, we had to use bottled drinking water to clean up, but catch this there were no washing soap, nor brooms because a good majority of the trailers with supplies and food were in Nassau and can't clear customs. It was a disaster for us, we moved plywood’s, 2x4 pieces of wood 30 feet long, and cleaned up, This was when I noticed DeAnne Gibson stepped into the picture, walking around every 20 minutes at this point insisting that we get the place looking like a kitchen, put tables into place cutting boards, which there were not enough of, she said the Health Inspectors Needed to come and Inspect the place, we would have failed if that were the case, to top it off no health inspectors ever came. There was no water and no soap but she was clearly in charge because nothing happened until she came around, no one knew what the menu was going to be, no food was coming out as yet, there was no actual Chef in Charge other than hired Chefs Taking Charge. My source later told me that DeAnne Gibson Cater Fyre, also ‘Repping’ her Ministry of Tourism Shirt at the event, told Mr. Fox of the Fyre Festival Team that no food would be served until monies are received, my source confirmed when Mr. Fox relayed to him what had transpired, as he was one of the Chefs he had seen from the previous day, that he just gave (them) Cater Fyre $105,000.00 cash so that the food could start coming. I trust my source.
We never got done cooking and cleaning until after 1 in the morning, and the dishes were piled sky high it was filthy, and yes we were forced to work with what we had. They told us to leave it there someone will clean it by morning. Up to this point though no one told us where we were staying so even if we wanted to leave earlier to take a break we could not, and the closest restroom was a quarter of a mile walk away. We finally made it to the cruise ship via a ferry ride, where we bunked two people at a time, strangers we are btw. It was 3:30am and we needed to be at the tent for 7am.
(Above) Here Is A Photo I Took On The Way to The Kitchen Tents
The Big Question... How Did Cater Fyre come into existence?
Well DeAnne Gibson could not involve herself directly being the Ministry of Tourism & Aviation's Culinary Tourism Representative, and It would not be her sister Donna Williams Assistant Professor of Food Safety & Sanitation @ University of The Bahamas because that would just be a conflict of Interest. I do know that Cater Fyre was started specifically for the festival by Chef Ellie Saunders Assistant Professor of Pastry @ The University of the Bahamas and that they refer to themselves as Cater Fyre.
My Source Also confirmed that the Contract was worth 1.1 Million Dollars to Provide Catering for 2 weeks at the Fyre Festival, my source confirmed this with Chef Ellie Saunders. Mr. Fox was also invited to the University's Restaurant where he ate food that is prepared daily by the students attending The School of Culinary Arts. Based on this Mr. Fox made his decision on hiring Cater Fyre.
Old Equipment was bought or used from the college and then used as rental provided by Cater Fyre, and this makes sense because more than half of the equipment was useless on the site anyway, even the gas professionals could not get them on.
Friday Morning April 28th
The Whole world woke up to the disaster that was the Fyre Festival, that story is out there and this story only begins here. When we arrived to the site, the dishes were still there, but by this time they had soap, which was nonexistent the previous day and running water, there was also someone washing dishes, a new hire. We were instructed to carry on as usual, with breakfast, then lunch. No one said anything to us about the rumors of the festival being cancelled, what that means for us, or what's next. Everyone was getting frustrated no one was communicating with us and this experience has taken a turn for the worse, our employers decided to call a meeting around 6 pm to say what we already knew, the festival was cancelled, but it twisted when they told us we would need to break down the kitchens stock all the food supplies and essentially do the work that they told us they hired people to do already, the same crew that setup would breakdown. I spoke out after all was said saying that it was unacceptable, the communication was poor, we were held under duress for the first 24 hours, and I Denaldo Bain will not be putting anything away i will clean my area and await leaving instructions. Donna Williams Said her peace in trying to defend their actions but I told her that we are individuals that are currently being taken advantage of we have rights that have been infringed and I am speaking on behalf of everyone. Next thing there is a list going around with the first flight leaving out on Friday night Thank you DeAnne and your powers that be Ministry of Tourism and Aviation (abuse) you made this possible, sign me up I’m out, all of the chefs I traveled with coming to the island were on the flight as well as the students from the University of The West Indies.
Tuesday came and went, the emails stop coming and I reached out to the chefs and told them we can’t allow them to do this to us. There was a group created where persons voiced their concerns, I got calls from other chefs and messages from students all with the same concern so I decided to take action. How Do we Take action?
I sent a text message to one of the numbers that was used to send Food handler's Permit and said I heard nothing and that no one seems to know what's going on, she said I should have got contacted already, and that on Monday 8th May we would have our money. What money! Up to this date no one has ever confirmed our pay with us, before we got any emails confirming if we were selected or chosen to to this job, we were asked to state our rates, now when it came to the students I can’t say that they had the same opportunity. But for us Chefs that took time off from our work and business and even gave up other potential business because this seemed like a great investment for us, have not received payment nor explanation as to what the holdup is. At this point we are expecting to be compensated for all the time and that's 10 days of work, because Cater Fyre was under contract, and the Fyre Festival breached their contract meaning they had to pay out the Vendors. Guess who is a Vendor under contract? Yes. Cater Fyre & Legal Action Will Be Taken!
Chef Ellie Saunders
Mon, May 8, 2017 at 11:19 AM
Due to the failure of the Fyre Festival and the circumstances surrounding that, we Cater Fyre has not received the payment due to us.
However the ministry has intervened and as soon as we have received the funds you will be paid.
We are working hard to ensure that payment is made as soon as possible.
Yesterday (Which would have bee May 18th, 2017) I got an Impromptu call from Donna Williams and for 8 minutes she gave me excuses about Trailers of Food and equipment that was bought and unused that they sold in Exuma, Tens of thousands of dollars of merchandise even more, saying that money was used to pay to bring
shipping containers from the island to Nassau, okay... not my issue besides that’s a lot of money to only bring back containers, so they are broke, because of all the expenses, she also told me that if I want to sue someone I need to sue the Fyre Festival and/or Ministry of Tourism, her words... But I told her none of those persons hired chefs. There were also a few containers of food and equipment in Nassau that was sold at Remnant Baptist Church on Carmichael Rd. The word is that money was used to pay UWI students, she never mentioned this to me though nor the $105,000 that transpired between Cater Fyre and Mr. Fox on Thursday 27th April.
She said in the call that persons that worked the festival went to the Labor Board and said they did not get paid and the Labor Board asked them if they had a contract, I stopped her there and asked, if she is trying to say Cater Fyre is not obligated to pay anyone then? I never got an answer because I found Ms. Donna Williams to be too high and mighty, she even came on the phone with the attitude of demeaning me. She Also Said that The Ministry of Tourism has intervened to help them get this money and that she was going to send out an email last night the 18th of May or by this morning 19th of May.
I have come to the conclusion the Cater Fyre does not care about the Illegal Job they Acquired, I will go Further to say DeAnne Gibson, Donna Williams, & Chef Eldred Saunders have left themselves in a liable position, a position where they all misused their power, their positions, all for gainful means and at the expense of Us Chefs and Students. I would further appeal to the Minister of Tourism Dionisio D' Aguilar to Investigate DeAnne Gibson of Culinary Tourism and remove her from her post as she abused her position in a way that is unethical and even illegal by seeking contractual monetary gain and by essentially embarrassing the Ministry of Tourism Bahamas.
Secondly I would also like to Implore Dr. Rodney Smith President of the University of The Bahamas to also look into and investigate Assistant Professor Donna Williams, and Assistant Professor Chef Eldred Saunders, as they too abused their powers and position at the university in seeking contractual monetary gain and by essentially embarrassing the University with their actions. Donna Williams Should also Not Be Allowed to Continue in any aspect of Environmental Health or Food Safety, as she had persons obtain food handlers permits without sitting a class. There are many qualified Chefs and other Food Service Professional that would actually do a better job Instructing these classes and Training Instructors, I am sure the nurses who conduct classes now would rather be with patients.
Cater Fyre was the most unprofessional experience I have ever experienced in my life and I do hope no one hires that company or the persons that were involved, they are poor business people.
Denaldo Bain Advocate