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Chef closes restaurant due to violence, continues cooking at hotel

Saturday, August 26, 2017

FROM an early age, Van Dyke Bernard developed a passion for cooking. With no formal training, this self-taught chef has catered to celebrities and scores of foodies.

“For me, cooking comes naturally. I didn't go to any school to study, but what I did was to observe others preparing food and put my spin to it. Cooking is something I love,” Bernard is quoted in a press release as saying.

His culinary skills assisted him to victory in Regional 1 of the CB Foods-promoted PAN 2016 competition. Bernard won first place for his parish of Hanover. At the national final, he finished in second place.

“Last year was my first time entering the PAN chicken competition. I heard about it through a friend who took the entry form to me and encouraged me to enter. It never crossed my mind and it turned out to be a great experience,” Bernard said.

He continued: “It was a wonderful experience and I have learnt a lot. Winning at the regional level then moving on to second place in the grand finals really meant a lot for me. And even though I didn't win first place, I still walked away with the experience and the exposure. The competition is the greatest thing ever.”

For his efforts at the PAN 2016 grand finals, he won $150,000 from CB Foods, $70,000 from National Baking Company, $100,000 business development grant from Jamaica National Small Business Loan, and a year's supply of CB Chicken.

A resident of Elgin Town in Hanover, Bernard catered at weddings in and around the parish before he took up a job at the Rock House in West End, Negril.

“I worked at Rock House for 13 years as a chef and then I decided to do my own thing. I opened Sunshade Restaurant in Hanover. But because of the violence in the area, I had to close it down last year,” Bernard said.

The 36-year-old father of a seven-year-old son is now the head chef at the staff canteen at Round Hill Hotel and Villas in Hanover.

“I've been the head chef at the staff canteen at Round Hill since November last year. So far, I have been enjoying the experience. It has been good,” said Bernard.

A member of his team, Charles Ewar, is a competitor in Regional 1 of PAN 2017, which takes place today at Independence Park, Black River, St Elizabeth.

“My advice to anyone entering PAN 2017 is to give it your best shot. Presentation and preparation is key, so just do your best,” Bernard said.