Sandals Royal Caribbean's Ingrid Lowe shares journey to becoming a sous chefThursday, August 19, 2021
MONTEGO BAY, St James - One jacket and a passion to grow were all Ingrid Lowe had when her journey to become a chef started.
She was 19 years old then, with a child and without a job. Being the ambitious person that she is, she refused to sit idly, so she enrolled in training school with the aim of acquiring a skill and eventually provide a better life for her newborn.
At the time Lowe had no clue that she would one day become a sous chef at Sandals Royal Caribbean and one of the most revered names in the kitchen.
It was certainly the furthest thing from her mind especially because she signed up to learn housekeeping. Perhaps it was fate but her housekeeping desire quickly turned after a cook at Sandals encouraged her to pursue food and beverage. This decision saw her spending an additional six months at the training institute.
“After I completed my course, I was sent to Sandals for further practical training. I didn't even own a jacket. The lady who encouraged me to do food and beverage was the one who gave me a jacket and I would wear it and wash it every single day. Some days it would still need to be properly dried so I would take it to the changing room and iron it until it was dried,” she explained.
But the Trelawny native was not limited by that. She was focused and determined to do her best, using her son as a constant source of motivation.
“I was so eager. I would always try to look for the areas that needed help and I would chip in. As a trainee, I was assigned to the staff canteen, but before my shift started I would always stand close to the breakfast range and once an item runs out I would be right there to replenish it. I also helped with the breakfast set-up even though it was not my duty. As soon as breakfast ended I would get started on my shift,” she recalled.
Little did she know that the executive chef at the time was taking note of her zealous attitude and passion to learn.
“The chef realised that I had a hunger to learn so he started giving me books on a regular basis. He gave me a number of pastry books, books on how to make sauces, and books about the operations of the hot range. So I would get hands-on training from others in the kitchen and in my free time I would also be reading the books that the chef gave me,” Lowe shared.
She continued to impress so much that at the end of her training she was offered a position at the resort. The books were indeed a blessing as she was placed in the pastry as a casual cook. From the pastry, Lowe moved on to the hot range.
Perhaps the executive chef foresaw how Lowe's journey would go, but the books he gave her seemed to have been in line with her movement.
“My chef asked me to make a hot tomato sauce for him one day. I had never done it before but because he had given me the book I was able to whip it up for him. When I brought it to him, he was blown away,” she shared, smiling as she recalled the moment.
Not one to settle, Lowe continued to work hard, showing competence in various areas and soon began moving through the ranks, even to the point of skipping a level as she was soon offered a supervisory role. Even then, she still shone brightly, copping several supervisor of the month awards.
“I am very good with people. I am not a loud chef, I listen and I pay attention to details. Wherever I am on the resort, team members will find me if they have an issue because they know I always find a solution to any challenge,” she shared.
The next step for Lowe following her role as supervisor was becoming the garde manger chef (pantry manager).
“I remember when they wanted a chef to work in the pantry and the chef came to me and said, 'I'm going to throw you in the water and I know you will swim, not sink,' ” she shared.
“I had never worked in that area before but I didn't say no. I continued reading books, more of which he gave me and kept on doing research on my own.”
After only a few months, Lowe was a superstar in the pantry. There's no question as to whether she commands the respect of her staff and her leaders.
Executive sous chef at Sandals Royal Caribbean, Junior Mowatt, shared that Lowe is the consummate leader and a tremendous support to the kitchen operations.
“She is excellent. She is the backbone of the kitchen. Everyone respects her and she is very helpful. I've known Ingrid over 10 years and she has only excelled, her passion has never dwindled, she has never fallen back, she only continues to grow and get better. Honestly, I see her becoming an executive sous chef soon. At Sandals Resorts, we pride ourselves on promoting from within and once a position is available and we see someone with the right attitude and skill sets, we have no qualms moving them up,” shared Mowatt.
Lowe, who has made strides in the professional world, has also stepped up in the world of motherhood as she now has a daughter.
While her children are not very enthused about the culinary field, she shared that they are proud of her and where she is and she has no plans to slow down anytime soon.
“I am happy that I made the decision as a young girl to go out there and do it for my child. Now, 14 years later, I can say that both my children are proud of their mom. I would still like to go further, but it gives me great joy knowing that I am able to take adequate care of them and even help others,” she said.