DO you love being in the kitchen? Are you the designated foodie or cook in your group? Maybe you've thought about becoming a chef and want to know more about being successful in the culinary industry.
We had the chance to catch up with the hea 'The Bachelor Chef' Stewart (SS) on a rare day-off recently and talked about what it's like establishing himself in the food industry.
The 27-year-old Wolmer's Boys' School alum dished up some sage advice and showed us what he does when he is not busy in the kitchen.
teenAGE: What made you decide to become a chef?
SS: Cooking for me is a natural talent. While job searching some years ago, I was unsuccessful in landing a job. My mother encouraged me to start my own thing and I've never looked back since.
teenAGE: You were nominated as a Chef on the Rise at the 2011/ 2012 Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards. Have there been any milestones since?
SS: I was recently inducted to HEART Trust Runaway Bay's Hall of Fame which to me is a huge honour. I was enrolled there in 2006 where I completed my Level One certification. I've also enjoyed being a brand ambassador for CB Foods and working with their brands: Caribbean Passion, CB Chicken and Copperwood Pork.
teenAGE: What are your current qualifications?
SS: Since I've attained Level One certification in 2006, most of my expertise has been gained through on-the-job experience and online resources. I have been accepted by University of Technology to study for my degree in Food & Beverage Management; and I start in September 2014.
teenAGE: What has your journey been like?
SS: My journey has been a big learning experience. I have learnt to be flexible in dealing with different personalities as clients. Being open to learning from my mistakes has helped me to grow in the business. It doesn't matter how many things go right or wrong on my part, my client expects me to deliver. At the end of the day, the work has to be done.
teenAGE: What has been your biggest mistake? How has that shaped your business?
SS: I was hired for an event and ended up arriving late. This snowballed into a series of unfortunate events which led to a failure in delivering to my client. It didn't stop there -- I had to return a portion of their deposit and find money to pay my staff. Needless to say, I've made it my duty to never be late again.
teenAGE: What are some of the challenges?
SS: Personally, the biggest challenge is being satisfied with how far I've come and meeting expectations I have of myself. Professionally, it is fully delivering on clients visions with an economically challenged budget.
teenAGE: Whom do you look up to in the field locally and internationally?
SS: My biggest inspiration locally is Chef Karl Thomas. He is very open to sharing knowledge that means a lot to upcoming talent like myself. He also played a crucial role in the growth and development of my five year old catering business -- Elite Kreations. On the international side, I would say Gordon Ramsay. I like the way he commands his kitchen as well as how confident he is. I admire the way he has branched out into making television shows, opening restaurants, having his own food equipment line and writing cookbooks. These are all things I aspire to do in the future.
teenAGE: Do you still film episodes for The Bachelor Chef show YouTube?
SS: My cooking videos are on hold for now. The show will be re-launched on my website sometime this year.
teenAGE: What are your plans for your career?
SS: I look forward to my cooking show being broadcast on international networks, a seasoning line and starting a chef's apparel line.
teenAGE: What advice would you give to teenagers on becoming a chef?
SS: Stay grounded and remain humble. As my Alma mater's motto states: Age Quod Agis; which translates to "Whatever you do, do it to your best ability".
teenAGE: What do you do in your spare time?
SS: Sleep, sleep and sleep some more. I also enjoy playing football and spending time with my family.
teenAGE: What kind of dishes do you cook up on your day off?
SS: My job keeps me in the kitchen for hours. So on my days off, I tend to draw for quick ingredients that can be prepared in no time. For breakfast, I had a protein smoothie after my morning workout. For lunch, I cooked up some corned pork and served it with boiled yellow yam. I especially like Caribbean Passion's corned pork because I don't have to soak it before cooking. I'm in and out the kitchen within 15 minutes.