Bent Rasmussen was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1941. He became an apprentice in a small exclusive restaurant in Copenhagen, while going to culinary school to win his chef’s diploma. After spending two years in the Danish Navy as a chef in the Officer’s Mess on a fort outside Copenhagen, he went to Italy for six months to learn Italian cooking. While in Italy, he was offered a position at the Restaurant Scandia in Los Angeles until 1964, when he joined the culinary team at the Danish Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair.
After the World’s Fair closed, he spent three months doing a promotion for Danish foods in the Virgin Islands. St Croix, twice owned by Denmark, felt like home, and he fell in love with the island. On St. Croix, Chef Rasmussen opened Little Mermaid at the Buccaneer Hotel in 1965, Mahogany Inn in 1967, King Christian Restaurant in 1968, and in 1970, he and his wife Hanne, opened the Top Hat Restaurant in a restored town house, that combined Old World charm with island hospitality. His combination of Continental and Scandinavian cuisines and local dishes were a “must” for over a quarter of a century.
In 1997, the Great Chefs team flew to St Croix from Richard Branson’s Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands, and taped Chef Rasmussen preparing a cucumber soup; a veal oscar and almond sticks for their Great Chefs of the Caribbean series.
Later, in 1998, they returned to tape Chef Rasmussen preparing five more dishes for Weber Grill’s Caribbean Cook Out special. Thirty-seven years later, in 2007 Top Hat Restaurant closed, Chef Bent retired, and Hanne Rasmussen and Chef reopened the restaurant as “Art @ Top Hat”, an upscale art gallery, and the only one on the island.