“Wow, the food is so delicious! Where does your Chef come from? “This is a question we are often asked and people are pleasantly surprised when we tell them, that Junior is from the neighbouring village – a guy with a talent for flavours whom we have trained on the job for over 12 years –rather than a formally trained Chef with international experience. Junior is a wonderful example of the potential of our staff – and how encouragement can develop potential.
We still remember the day clearly when we interviewed Junior. Small in stature, unassuming he came with no letters of reference, no certifications – essentially nothing as is often the case in Jamaica when people come looking for work. We have learnt that it is far more important to establish their natural talents, knowing that if they have the right attitude and willingness to learn, we can teach them the actual ‘skills’. We asked him what he could cook and he said “Steamed Fish” – fair enough we said, please cook it. When he presented his steamed fish, he wowed us – it was simply the best steamed fish we had eaten – and that is saying a lot because Steamed Fish is a traditional Jamaican dishes offered everywhere. He got the job because we reasoned that if his sense of taste was so fine with the seasoning done so perfectly and the fish cooked to perfection, then he should be able to learn to cook all sorts of other dishes.
That has been the case with Junior. Many ingredients and flavours are quite foreign to Jamaicans – for example, a taste for sour – generally here it’s either sweet or salty, but Junior has grown so much over the years and met our challenges , including developing that extra taste-bud. He cooks according to the philosophy of the hotel focusing on simple good food that allows the quality of the products to be showcased while highlighting the Caribbean flavours… Our guests continuously confirm they enjoy our restaurant’s wholesome and healthy food which is never bland, as it is never mass produced.
We have been through thick and thin – after 9/11 when things were tough and our crew was down to a minimum Junior was (and is) one of the most supportive members of our team – always ready to go the extra mile and understanding that we had to pull through together. We would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his loyalty and hard work. Over the years we have grown together and now he’s part of the extended family where one knows each other’s quirks and preferences and tries to cheer us up with little touches when we might not be feeling so bright. Most of all we enjoy the open, trusting relationship that has developed – and that we can rely on each other. It is comforting to know that not only can we continue to enjoy Junior’s delicious food; but that we can rely on him and the other senior members of our team to train and guide the new team members and more importantly impart our core values to them.