Try new food in new places, find a chef to identify with and develop the skills to interact with people: this is just some of the advice for those hoping to make their way in the culinary profession.
Dennis McIntosh, the award-winning executive chef of the Moon Palace Jamaica Grand Resort, was on the island to pass on his wisdom to Bermuda College students at a public forum.
He was joined by fellow renowned chefs Marcus Samuelsson, operator of Marcus’ at the Hamilton Princess, and Cambridge Beaches Resort & Spa executive chef Keith DeShields, for Thursday’s Bermuda Triangle of Celebrity Chefs event.
“We’ve all had different career paths, we’ve had a long journey, so we really want to let it be known that hospitality is very rewarding but you have to be determined and passionate and focused to make your way to the top,” Mr McIntosh told The Royal Gazette. “It is important now that they recognise whatever effort they put in now while they are young, they’re going to reap the rewards.
“Food has to send them to bed, be the nightmare they have and wake up in the morning and go and do it.”
But he said it was also important for young people to find chefs they can identify with, adding that it is important for them to hear how other have dealt with certain experiences.
Mr McIntosh said he remembers kitchens where he might have been the only black chef, but he added that he would not have got ahead had he dwelled on this.
“You just have to do what you need to do as a professional or an up-and-coming professional and at the end of the day you are judged by your ability to produce food and please your customers.”
Mr McIntosh added that today’s chefs need to “be equipped a little bit differently”, with a good knowledge of IT being essential.
Also key is the ability to interact with different people, as well as an “appreciation overall for different experiences in and around food and beverage”.
But he said: “The best education young people can have is the ability to travel to different places. If you’re into food try different things.
“Just be very open to do that and your passion will grow with that, your experience, your confidence all of that will come together once you are doing what it is that you love.
But he also emphasised that to make it to the top, aspiring chefs have to “put in some extra time, some extra hours to learn from someone else or to give advice and support to other individuals”.
Mr McIntosh, who spent his early childhood in Jamaica before moving to Coventry, England, studied culinary arts at Henley College Coventry in Warwickshire.
He came to Bermuda in the Eighties for eight years, working first at the Holiday Inn and then at the Southampton Princess.
He returned to Jamaica in 1990 and has worked at some of the best hotels in the country. He is also involved with the Culinary Federation of Jamaica.
More than 30 first and second year culinary arts students were able to work with Mr McIntosh and Mr Samuelsson to prepare the food ahead of the forum.
Second year student Mary Richardson, 32, said: “All of them have their own experiences in certain things and you can learn a great deal from each and every one of them.”
First year student Terreicay Richardson, 18, said she enjoyed meeting chefs from different backgrounds and was keen to pick up some new skills.
Meanwhile, Anthony Sousa, 19, hoped to take away motivation to continue his dream of becoming a chef, as well as insight on how to overcome challenges.
And fellow first year student, 32-year-old Aaron Albuoy, a kitchen steward and chef in training at Marcus’, was eager to work “closely with Marcus Samuelsson himself”.
Second year student Meagan Boyles, 25, said she has been a fan since seeing Mr Samuelsson on TV show Chopped.
“I’m interested in his cooking techniques that he can show us and the different things that he brings forth to us to help us enhance our knowledge,” she said.
Teneika Eve, Bermuda College culinary chef and Live, Love, Eat cooking show presenter, said it was encouraging for her students to see a panel of particularly black men, who have come from different backgrounds and made a success of themselves.
“I’m hoping that my students realise that as different as these men’s journey’s are, so will theirs be — but their journeys all led to success,” she said.
“It hasn’t always been easy but they persevered, they let their passion make a way and did it.”