24. Culinary Arts from Jamaica

by Chef Nigel

My Passion

is food, nothing less than food. This is what I love to do. Whatever I do, I think about food.

When I sleep, I think about food. When I converse, I talk about food. I like to think it's within me. It's my attitude. It's something that I actually bond with. 


Discovery Journey

When I was a kid, I and my siblings stayed at home, while my mum went to work. She used to say: 'no cooking, no lighting of stove'. We were 4, me and 3 of my sisters and I loved to cook. So one day we took a milk tin, filled it up with water and we lit a small fire. We took green banana, we chopped it into small cubes and put it into the milk tin to cook. This is how my passion begun. When my mum came home, she asked: 'Who lit the stove' and I took responsibility. Sometimes we got beaten for that, cause no parents want their kids to light fire at home.




When I was in the secondary school, once my teacher didn't come to school. So I decided: 'ok, I'm going to the canteen'. I'll never forget what happened later. The chef in the canteen said: 'What can you do?' I said: 'I can season the meat for you.' 'Go ahead then.' said the chef.

She brought the onion, garlic, pepper, thyme and stuff like that. So I seasoned the curry chicken and she was doing something, so I didn't wait for her to tell me to put it on fire. Eventually, I ended up cooking the chicken. After I finished cooking, she came, tried the chicken and said: 'wow, this is great'. She was amazed, totally shocked. And at that time I was like 14, 15 years old.

Then my teacher appeared in the afternoon at lunch time, looking for something to eat. She ate the curry chicken and then she shouted – 'who cooked it?'. I will never forget it, I was so frightened. So I didn't want to say anything. And the chef said – 'He did', pointing at me. 'You did?' asked the teacher. 'Yes Miss, I was the one cooking it.' I replied. She turned to me and said: 'I believe this is your passion, you should be a chef.' And from that day till today it became a part of me.




This is it

Actually, I've done a lot of things before and I wasn't comfortable doing them. My father was a contractor and I went with him on jobs, I've done farming and didn't feel comfortable. When I tracked back my school days, I've realised that cooking makes me happy, so I continued back on that path. When I cook a meal and it's not up to my standards, I know it immediately. And I know when someone is pleased with my meal before they even say it. This is something that I've developed over the last few years. Now, when I'm preparing the meal for anybody to eat, I do my best. I use everything I got to make that meal the best meal you have ever had in your life.


Try it

First, you have to ask yourself, 'who am I?'. This is the biggest question. You have to find your strongest point and focus on it. Now, in order to search for your strongest point, try everything that you can think of. You may try cooking, bartending, being a waitress or a bottler. One must be something that you like. Anything that you feel comfortable doing, explore it and build on it. Take it a day at a time, that will lead you step by step to the highest stuff, no doubt about it.

If you don't feel comfortable, you are not gonna like it, you will not want to go to work and you will just want the day to finish. If you are comfortable, you cannot wait for the day light to go to work and when you are at work, you don't want to leave.




Take a look at the interview here: here


Find out more about Chef Nigel's passion here.

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