BY MARCY SHORTUSE – When Jeremy Chamathorn (a.k.a. Jeremy Chino) first came to Boca Grande, he was astounded by the island’s beauty. His cousin, Patrick Vollmer, had enticed him here with the promise of a job working in paradise. It wasn’t until Jeremy arrived here that he realized just how true that was.
“My first thought was what a beautiful island it was!” he said. “It’s quiet, for sure. Just nice, throughout. It was funny, though, because when I hit the beach I wondered where everyone was at. Overall, once I looked things over I figured it wasn’t a bad idea, once I looked it over.”
You would know Jeremy if you were a patron of Patrick’s Thai Bistro. He helped out there for three years, and his co-workers became like family to him. Patrick, the owner, already was his family, of course. Patrick’s mother, Noy, is Jeremy’s Aunt. He did everything, from serving to bartending, to a bit of cooking.
Jeremy was born in Fort Myers, and was the middle child of three. He has an older sister, Pecan, and a younger brother, Thai. His family moved frequently when he was a child. From Florida to New Orleans, then to Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. His father, Jom, worked for a corporation that made filters for semi trucks.
“He did that for a few years, then got promoted so we moved to Washington state,” he said. “Eventually, we came back to Florida.”
Jeremy was happy when they returned to Fort Myers, when he was 9. He was back in school with people he knew, and he was happy to stay in one place.
His mother started cooking at a Sanibel resort, and she kept that job for more than a decade. He was interested in cooking from the time he could see over the stovetop, and his mother, named B, encouraged him to learn.
“She made me cook for her, and insisted I learn,” Jeremy said. “We did some American food, but lots of Thai food, spicy stuff.”
Jeremy attended Riverdale High School, where he was in his element. There were sports there, you know … lots of sports. He played football, volleyball, he wrestled and he weightlifted.
“I did pretty much everything except golf and tennis,” he laughed.
After graduated Jeremy had a plan, and college wasn’t in it. He was going to cook, and got his first job in a Fort Myers restaurant where he was a dishwasher. From there he eventually moved up to being a sushi chef.
“Sushi isn’t easy,” he said. “You have to know how to get the rice just right, that’s the heart of the sushi. The rice alone took me a year-and-a-half to learn. After that I started getting the hang of it.”
While his primary career choice is cooking, he also learned the roofing trade and did that for almost 12 years. All through middle school and high school he worked. His father currently has a roofing business in Fort Myers and at age 67 he is up on a roof almost every working day.
“He’s amazing,” Jeremy admitted. “He’s a very strong man.”
Jeremy also has a 13-year-old daughter, named Tatiana Ali Marie. She lives with her mother in Texas. It was from Tatiana’s mother that Jeremy learned Spanish, and speaks it fluently. He also knows a bit of Chinese, as well as Japanese.
Jeremy came to Boca Grande three years ago because, as he says, “Patrick dragged me up here.”
It is somewhat obvious from his demeanor he is more of a “big city” guy, but the charm and seclusion of our tiny island has cast its spell on him.
“I was very hesitant to come,” he said, “but Patrick told me I could make a nice living. At first I told him no, I was really hesitant. I wanted to stay in the city. So I gave it a shot, either way. Boca Grande is nice, it’s quiet. And there’s nothing much to do, which saves money.”
One thing Jeremy definitely finds quite nice about Boca Grande is the boating and fishing. While he hasn’t had time to do a lot of it, he got to go out for the second day of the World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament in a judge boat, and enjoyed it immensely. He has plans to go on a tarpon trip of his own very soon.
There was also another bonus to working at Patrick’s; it’s where he met his girlfriend, Corynne Bailey. Last year she was hired as a server, and they hit it off immediately.
Jeremy isn’t sure exactly what is in store when it comes to his future, but he hopes to have Corynne in his life. He also hopes to own his own business someday.
“I want to have my own business going, maybe a restaurant, a sushi-mini- tiki-bar type-thing. Maybe with a lazy Susan of sushi. I can tell you, though, that I like to go with the flow, day by day. Whatever I’m blessed with, I’ll do it.”