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People Profile: Paul Yellin

Paul Yellin is known by many as the Rhum Chef.  He’s the author of the Mount Gay Cookbook, rum advocate and chef to the stars. Check out our interview.

How did you become interested in rum?

I grew up in Barbados, in the Caribbean.  Rum is not just a beverage {there}…it is a lifestyle.  It is everywhere.  Cane borders the roads outside of the city and towns.  The roads literally cut thru cane fields.  On the way to the beach you pass by and see the canes being cut with a machete, by hand, as it has been for over 300 years.

You’re known as the Rhum Chef.  When and why did you start cooking with rum?

Like all good stories, it started by accident…and cost.  French brandy is quite expensive,  as are the ingredients in other desserts.  Little by little I started substituting rum in recipes that called for brandy or whiskey or even wine.  

Tell us about the Mount Gay Cookbook.

I was asks by an exec from Mount Gay Barbados (Geoffrey Markle) to provide some sample recipes for a promotional event.  Over a few weeks I thought about the project and asked a graphic designer to help me make a mock up to take to Mount Gay Marketing.  It happened to coincide with the 300th anniversary for Mount Gay Rum and the time was right!!  They went for it!

Which rums are best for cooking?

I have a weakness for Mount Gay Eclipse and XO.  They provide the perfect amount of wood and sugar flavor to marinades, sauces and even desserts

Rhum Chef

Rhum Chef

What is your favorite rum (or rums) in each category and why?

White – St. James, Martinique  for the perfect Ti’ Punch
Gold – Tommy Bahama Golden Sun 
Aged – Hmmmm.  Mount Gay XO, El Dorado 15, Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva and Ron Zacapa 23 are some of the finest examples of aged rum on the market.

What is your favorite cocktail?

Double XO and coconut water (fresh , not canned!!)

Do you have a favorite rum bar?

A favorite?  There are some nice places, but my “favorite” rum bar hasn’t been built. YET.

Do you have a favorite spirits shop for buying rum?

There you go with that “favorite” thing again.  I know a great store in downtown DC.  Central Liquors on F Street.

What is a rum that you’d travel outside of the US for?

A bottle of rum found on the wreck of a suspected pirate ship, still sealed and unbroken, over 250 years old.



Are the world’s best rums really made in Barbados? 😉

Well, yes.  Easily the most consistently made and pleasing rums are produced by specially designed and unique sugar cane and pure, natural limestone filtered water combined with hundreds of years of know-how and practice.  But South American rums are really impressing me lately.  Now, to be fair, each country that produces rum will have loyal fans of it own rum.  Therein lies the fun.

What else?

It’s not a secret (to industry people) that rum is making a comeback.  I say comeback because during WWII, US Troops were stationed in the Caribbean and brought rum back with them after falling in love with it and mixing it with the quintessential American pop, Coca Cola.

Stats in the industry show that rum sales are up.  Bartenders can testify that people are requesting varieties of rum instead of just a choice between 2 (dark/light).  Rum seems to have the same affect as Chapagne.  It lightens peoples mood.  It makes them think happy thoughts.

We at the DC Rum Club are going to :

1.  Gather our troops who have been wanting to fight
2.  Recruit or convert new soldiers
3.  Take DC by sweet storm 
4.  Spread out to Infiltrate and convert the rest of you

Visit us at to sign up and see where we are and where we are going to be …