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Sandals Negril's cook Royno Ricketts reveals growth recipe

Thursday, March 15, 2018

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NEGRIL, Westmoreland — “It doesn't matter where you start. What matters is where you end up, and that is up to you, ” said Royno Ricketts, a 27-year-old cook at Sandals Negril.

It probably sounds as though he took it straight from a book written by Aristotle, Plato or Socrates. Well, Ricketts is no philosopher, but his own experience is more than proof of his profound quote.

A few months ago you would've seen him walking around the resort clad as a steward, pushing bins, washing pots and cleaning kitchens. He did it with vigour. He could not stop himself from singing while he worked, much to the delight of his audience, which always happened to be his fellow team members.

In fact, he quickly grew famous on the resort for the slang, “Sandals noice”, something that is best said if you lean your mouth a bit.

Now the ardent employee is no longer a steward, but a cook at the prestigious Kimonos restaurant at Sandals Negril. Kimonos is the Teppanyaki- style Japanese restaurant.

“Man, it is a good feeling! —said Ricketts. “I never imagined that I would be working as a chef; I used to have my mind set on becoming a top man in the stewarding department. You know, the kitchen and the stewarding departments are like neighbours, so I would hang around the kitchen a lot,” he added.

Ricketts shared that although he was always hanging around the kitchen and watching his chef colleagues as they went about their daily routines, he never quite thought about it until the then executive chef Francisco Almonte and the stewarding manager, Ashbert Chambers, approached him.

“They told me that I should try and cross-train and uplift myself since it is allowed, and I am glad they said it.”

Ricketts embarked on an intensive training course which lasted for six months, coming in on his days off, and working before and after his sanitation shifts.

“Two of them (employees) expressed interest and started the training. One did not finish, but Royno was persistent and he pushed himself. At one point he became frustrated because he felt he was ready, but we wanted him to acquire more knowledge,”said Ramone Jackson, then executive sous chef.

“We had him trained in the different areas of the kitchen so he would become well rounded. Before placing him in Kimonos, we had him on the lunch station, and after observing him for some time we realised that he is a natural entertainer. We had him do the relief shifts in Kimonos and even encouraged him to do overtime there so he could learn the ropes of that restaurant. He grasped the concepts quickly and as soon as the space became available, we placed him there to work full-time,” added Jackson.

While Ricketts is willing to work wherever he is placed, he is happy to be in Kimonos.

“For now, Kimonos is really the right place for me. I am naturally talented and me born to go in front of people. I always feel good coming to work, knowing that I will have some guests to interact with. Every day I try to make the food as nice as my rhymes because the food is the most important thing. Me nice up everything for the guests,” he explained.

Ricketts, is no doubt a guest favourite as he continues to receive rave reviews on Trip Advisor, the 'word-of-mouth of travel.'

“Best honeymoon ever! At the Japanese restaurant, Royno was wonderful,” was what one guest wrote on Trip Advisor.

The reviews from his colleagues are even more commendable.

“I am very proud of Royno. He has come a far way. The growth is not just professional, but he has grown as an individual and it is beautiful to see,” said Monique Thomas, a fellow cook.

“When I put on my uniform and I'm walking to my work area, I always feel proud and team members are always congratulating me and saying that they are motivated by the move,”Ricketts said proudly.

“It goes to show that hard work, perseverance and the encouragement and support of others can go a long way.”

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