"For me, every day is a learning experience and I want to learn," David Gopie shares. The mild-mannered Gopie is a junior sous chef and butcher at The Jewel Dunn's River Resort and at 43, he's enthusiastic about furthering himself in the food industry. "I would want to move on to a position where my work would involve taking on administrative tasks," he tells us over lunch at the hotel's Court Jesters pizzeria.
It's been a rather eventful life for Gopie. He divulges that after a hardscrabble upbringing, moving from one parish to the next as a child, he landed a job at L&M Meats in Salem, St Ann at age 21, following sporadic construction site odd jobs. "It was washing up, cleaning the floors and cleaning the machine, but I would always pay attention to the butchers at work," he notes. "Then one day, the supervisor said he was going to give me a chance on the table. I went there and started to cut the meat and he asked me how I knew what to do and I explained that I always observed what was happening," Gopie says. The supervisor gave the would-be butcher a book to read and in no time, Gopie was in the shop cutting and carving meat.
He moved onto Braco Village Resort where, he says, he learnt the hotel aspect of butchery, and then transitioned to being head butcher at Jamaica Grande Sunset Resorts.
"I always say the kitchen starts from the storeroom, and to me the butcher shop is like the engine room on a ship, without it, a kitchen sometimes doesn't make sense," Gopie rationalises.
At Jamaica Grande, he would cross paths with executive chef Ravi-Anne, who was impressed and saw inherent potential within Gopie that the butcher himself was not fully cognisant of.
Ravi-Anne would bring Gopie to work alongside him at his next two jobs at Half Moon Hotel and his current posting at The Jewel on the strength of his butchery skills.
Today, Gopie is expanding his skill set and has taken on additional culinary know-how. "Right now I am working in the hotel's Platinum restaurant where I've come in and learnt all the stations, from how to do the vegetables, appetiszers, soups and sauces. To me, it's a great achievement," the smiling rising chef notes. We are hard impressed not to agree.