The earliest sign of culinary greatness from Chef Dennis McIntosh was when he won a pie-making contest while at primary school. The eldest of nine children, his skills were further honed as he helped his mother with cooking and baking for the large household. A trans-Atlantic voyage at eight years of age along with his parents would take him from Ness Castle, St Thomas, Jamaica, to Coventry in the United Kingdom.
After completing high school in the UK, McIntosh enrolled at the Henley College of Further Education to study culinary arts. This programme afforded him the opportunity to spend his final year in Germany, where he developed yet another passion: travelling.
Returning to England at the end of his training, McIntosh worked in London at establishments such as the Chelsea Hotel, Great Eastern and the iconic Quaglinos Restaurant (St James), where he got the chance to cook for the Queen on several occasions.
After London came Bermuda, where McIntosh worked for eight years, before returning to Jamaica in 1990.
Since then, guests at properties such as SuperClubs, Ciboney, The Ritz-Carlton, Secrets, and The Cardiff Hotel and Spa (formerly Runaway Bay HEART Academy) have enjoyed his culinary expertise. McIntosh has also served as a consultant for several local companies in the food industry, like Caribbean Producers Jamaica, Rainforest Seafoods and Walkerswood.
McIntosh, who is currently the executive chef at The Cardiff Hotel & Spa, is determined to raise the standard of the service offered to guests and, in the process, serve contemporary Jamaican food that gives patrons an “at-home feel”. At the same time, he wants them to appreciate that “home food” properly presented can be served in any major restaurant in any major metropolis.
McIntosh is delighted that more young Jamaicans are seeing the hospitality industry, especially the culinary arts, as a viable career option and is pleased that more students are entering the various training programmes that are offered by HEART Runaway Bay. He acknowledges that these trainees, who include students from the University of Technology (UTech), are articulate and know what they want. Chef McIntosh is emphatic that passion for the industry is what it will take for them to succeed. He would like to see the trainees who come through the Runaway Bay HEART Academy and The Cardiff exposed to various kitchens. He believes it is important for them to develop an understanding that each property has its own operational standards. Knowledge, he believes, will help to broaden their ability to adapt to different circumstances.