AT 12 years old Jermaine Campbell was in the kitchen of his Portmore, St Catherine home whipping up delicious meals. Today the 21-year-old says he’s “living his dream” of being a chef.
For the last three years Campbell has been a full-time culinary demonstrator and lab technician at the Human Employment and Resource Training (HEART) College of Hospitality Services in Runaway Bay, St Ann. But the trainer is also a student. Earlier this month he began doing a bachelor’s degree in hospitality and tourism management at the Western Hospitality Institute. He will graduate next November.
“It is not easy to juggle the two because sometimes I have classes, but I know that being an instructor comes first. There are some responsibilities that come with being a teacher and that is of high importance,” he says. “Not saying my degree is not important, but the students are depending on me just as how I depended on my teachers back then.”
He knows all too well that if he does not do his job well, it could jeopardise his students’ future. He runs the training kitchen used in all their work.
“I’m responsible for the training kitchen as it pertains to the upkeep and the running of the lab, so when trainees are going to do their practicals I ensure that their training materials are ready, and inventories taken for the lab,” he tells LetsTravelCaribbean.com. He also ensures that timely repairs are made to the lab’s equipment.
“I give my all because, just like myself, I expect them to showcase the best wherever they go after HEART because skilled workers are needed in the hotel industry for it to work,” he says. “We need the chef because food is something everyone loves and most people go out to try new food. The mechanic and all those other skills are going to always be needed for things to run smoothly because they help to improve the experience for the guest.”
He practices what he preaches. He’s on the verge of getting a level three certificate from HEART in commercial food preparation. That will make a chef de partie, someone who runs a specific section in a kitchen, and reports to the sous chef.
“I grew up in the kitchen mostly and being there I felt so happy. I was just in my element. Whenever I cooked it was the best tasting meal and people use to always praise me for my meals. [As a child] I could cook Sunday dinner [by myself], also go to the market and pick up groceries. So I told my mother I wanted to be a chef when I grow up and I followed my dreams and I am living it right now,” says Campbell.
He took his first step towards his dream in 2016, while still attending Tarrant High School. That’s when he applied to HEART. He’s now basking in his achievements and has plans for an even more successful future.
“I plan to start my own business which is a food truck and catering business and, secondly, to pursue my masters in hospitality management,” he says.
Some of the training courses available from HEART in Jan 2022
Location: HEART College of Hospitality Services Runaway Bay, St Ann
Commercial Food Prep Level 2
Front Office Level 2
Hotel Property Maintenance Level 3
Tour Guide Level 2
17 years and older
Have a TRN, at least one CXC subject or pass the HEART entrance test
All courses are both full-time and blended.
Higher level courses
Accounting Level 3
Supervisory Management Level 3
Hotel and Restaurant Management Level 4 (must have at least a Level 3, with industry experience)
Food and Beverage Management Level 5 (must have at least a Level 3 or 4, with experience in the industry)
For Level 3 courses:
Must have a Level 2 in the specified areas mentioned or related skill area.
Level 3: $5,500
Level 4: $60,000
Level 5: $60,000
TEXT & PHOTOS: AKERA DAVIS