Trevanne's passion

Counting Down To The 21st Staging Of The Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards, Thursday, May 30, 2019

Thursday, April 25, 2019

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Nominee: Outstanding Caterer —  Trevanna Donnegal (Sear 274)

In September of 2016 I embarked on my mission in pursuit of becoming a better chef, raising the bar I set for myself and elevating my culinary standard at the world-renowned Le Cordon Bleu London. It has been two years since I last participated in the Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards and I have accomplished so much since then.

My journey at Le Cordon Bleu London was one filled with trials and triumphs, mixed with a few cuts and burns. Upon my enrolment I never imagined the road would be as challenging and fulfilling as it has been. Nothing could have prepared me for what I learnt there; it simply had to be experienced. You are pushed and driven for each and every practical, making it imperative to be focused and very attentive during each and every demonstration. The chef's critique and evaluation is done daily, after every session. Your work is constantly being assessed in every category from health, safety and hygiene procedures to work methodology, organisation and presentation, instilling a professional work ethic that you must always do your best, and that every detail matters.

The Grand Diplome with Culinary Management programme is the most challenging. Simultaneously doing cuisine and pâtisserie in an accelerated timeline meant very long days and very gruelling work. But “if you want good yuh nose haffi run”, and run it did, thanks to the British weather.

The culture differences were immediately very evident; I am a proud Jamaican national attending school in London and being taught by predominantly French and British Michelin star chefs. It was very interesting to learn the many precise and meticulous techniques of the French, with their food terminologies and working with ingredients I'd never before seen or heard about.

I was very fortunate to be placed in a group with a very diverse set of aspiring chefs, all with the common goals of learning about food and honing a skill. Regardless of where we were from we bonded together like a team, proving that food breaks barriers and the culinary arts can take you anywhere.

It has been a little over a year since I returned to Jamaica. I have been doing food consulting for restaurants, hotels and villas and private catering. I am currently in the process of renovating my commercial kitchen. I'm truly amazed to be able to use my Le Cordon Bleu London Culinary Management final project as my business plan for revamping my catering business. The project entailed developing a business concept and pitching it to actual international investors and completing the entire planning process. I always knew I would be returning to Jamaica, and tailored my project for exactly this and to watch it very slowly but surely come to fruition is awe-inspiring and humbling.

I do miss living in central London and the daily adventures of seeing incredible historical sites all on my commute to school, like watching the changing of the guard, walking on London Bridge and the embankment, eating in the West End and fattening my eyes on Bond Street, fine Michelin star restaurants on the high streets and exclusive hotels like The Shard, and fulfilling every chef's dream of seeing fresh seafood at a bustling Billingsgate Fish Market at 3:00 am.

My Le Cordon Bleu education has changed my entire thought process and views on food. I've maintained my love for simplicity, bold Jamaican flavours but fused it with world degustation, classical training and sophistication. I am committed to learning and reinventing myself and will continue to invest in my development and growth.

I must admit how terribly nervous I was to present to the Jamaica Observer Food Awards judges after a two-year absence. The weight of the Le Cordon Blue credentials adds greater expectations and the need to deliver an exquisite dining experience, and I am elated it was so well-received and the response was extremely encouraging.

It would be remiss of me to not mention my family and friends whose unwavering support I could have not done without: my parents, Trevor and Andrea Donegal; my siblings, Marcel and Trevor; my uncle and aunt, Desmond Panton and Sandra Lyn-Shue; my British family, grandmother Audrey Azar and aunt Marcia Clifford, and last but not least, my other half, Chris Porter. Infinite thank yous would not suffice.

I am eternally grateful to have been afforded the opportunity of a lifetime and I am back home to play my part in our industry's advancement.

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