Aston Pryce’s window of opportunity

by Oct 28, 2021People

AT 18 years old, fresh out of high school and with big dreams of learning all he could about the culinary arts, Aston Pryce had his sights set on studying abroad. He thought that was his best option. Then an aunt suggested he look at the opportunities available locally — from HEART.

He took a leap of faith.

In 2008, Pryce journeyed from his home parish of St Mary to St Ann, to enrol in what was then the Runaway Bay HEART Hotel & Training Institute. It’s now the HEART College of Hospitality Services, Runaway Bay.

He spent years there, his hard work propelling him “up the ladder”.

Certified Working Pastry Chef (CWPC) and ServSafe Instructor and Proctor, Aston Pryce (right), whipping up batter for a chocolate cake during one of his many training sessions with students from the Kenilworth HEART Academy where he teaches pastry along with cake baking and decorating.

“I went in as a Level One food preparation trainee. I did one year then I started the Level Two programme, which was 10 months. After that, I started the Level Three — the chef de partie — programme, which is also a diploma programme. And while I was doing that course, I was also working as the part-time pastry chef at the HEART hotel under the tutelage of Chef Lincoln Peterkin,” says a proud Pryce.

After completing all three levels, Pryce notes, he decided to pursue an Associate of Science degree in Culinary Chef Management at the Western Hospitality Institute in Montego Bay — another way to gain new knowledge.

But, as 31-year-old Pryce tells, his quest for continued learning did not stop there.

“I started the Culinary Institute of America programme. And I applied for the demonstrator position at HEART Runaway Bay. The demonstrator is almost like a training programme for past students that come back to work at HEART to gain more knowledge and experience. It’s a programme where you assist instructors with practical classes. So, for incoming trainees, you will do the demonstrations when they have practical classes,” he explains.

Now a Certified Working Pastry Chef (CWPC) and ServSafe Instructor and Proctor, Pryce is an instructor at the Kenilworth HEART Academy in Hanover, where he teaches pastry along with cake baking and decorating. His 11 years of hands-on working experience in the hospitality industry come in handy as he shares his wealth of knowledge with his students.

“That designation [CWPC] is given to chefs who have at least two years of working experience in the field. They specialise in desserts, cakes, cookies and other pastries and they have the knowledge of writing menus, food safety and sanitation, nutrition and supervisory management,” he says.

The training received over the years, he tells, has been a window for many opportunities.

“I am able to now stand on my own as a pastry professional because without all of these certifications and the knowledge, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It has given me a chance to show what I have and what I can do,” says Pryce.

Now, he excitedly shares this knowledge with his students.

“I try to teach them based on what it requires in the industry. I still follow the rule book on teaching, but sometimes you give them a little bit more than you are required to do. Because you have been entrusted with a group of students, so you ensure that you change their lives,” he says.

Pryce adds, “Someone changed my life by giving me all of this knowledge. I love baking, but [I also love] to see my students after they’ve graduated. Just like an eagle, you have them for a period of time then you push them out the nest to see if they’ll fly on their own. Once I see my students flying, it gives me that sense of accomplishment that I have done something right.”

“All of this information that I have garnered and picked up along the way, I give it back,” he adds. “For me to give back to an institution that has given me so much, I feel really proud. It brings me joy.” 


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