Culinary career choice
By Sherie Holder-Olutayo | Sun, December 02, 2012 - 12:30 PM
When you start a career, you want to go as far in the career as you can go.
These words are coming from chef and co-owner of the restaurant Naru, Barry Taylor, whose impressive culinary résumé seemed to match his drive to succeed in his chosen profession.
Though Barry has achieved success in his own right, he’ll be the first to tell you that this (being a chef) wasn’t his first choice of professions.
Barry, who grew up in Brazil and Barbados and lived in the United States, says that this wasn’t his original plan.
“I applied to five universities in the United States, got into all five and that’s how I ended up living in Milwaukee,” he revealed. “I had no idea what I wanted to do because I was only 16 years old. My sister was doing psychology at Loyola University, so I figured, ‘Let me do psychology’. After about a year at Marquette, I figured that was not for me. I don’t really enjoy it, so I moved to Miami and went to college in Miami.”
Though Barry hoped the move would bring him some clarity in terms of direction, he still had no idea what he wanted to do.
“I used to like cooking from a young age, and my mother always told me I should go into that,” Barry said. “My father was a hotelier and so on, but one day I decided I was going to join the US Marines. This was in 1994. I was all set to join up – I always figured I would have made a good soldier. About a week before I was going to go and sign up for the Marines, in my mailbox came flyers and information for Johnson & Wales University.”
Perhaps the arrival of the flyers was a tad fortuitous because the previous day Barry’s mother had been telling him about the school. “Then the flyers came in the mail by accident, so I figured this is fate,” Barry revealed. “So I went to Johnson & Wales. From the time I got there, I knew that was what I was supposed to do.”
Finding his niche came as both a relief to Barry and an opportunity to excel as well.
“In your final year at Johnson & Wales you are supposed to do an internship somewhere. My uncle was friendly with Larry Taylor, who at the time owned Olive’s. It basically got set up for me to come down and do my internship at Olive’s. Then I had to go back to the States to graduate. When my internship came to an end, Larry offered me a job to stay on. Then he was opening La Terra and he offered me the job to go there as the pastry chef because that is the direction I wanted to go in. A year later I was the head chef at La Terra.”
From there Barry seemed to be on an upward career path, working at Bougainvillea, opening up the Restaurant at South Sea with his dad and finally opening up his own restaurant, Naru.
“The cuisine, which is a blend of Asian and Caribbean, was the direction I was going with toward the end at South Sea,” Barry revealed. “I’ve always loved Asian food and towards the end we started incorporating Asian with Caribbean.”
With Naru, Barry and his wife decided to push in that direction.
“My wife actually came up with the name while searching on the Internet,” he said. “It’s Japanese and it means to be.”
Barry, who is now owner and chef, says that this new role in his life is like a dream come true.
“The public has really been receptive to the cuisine,” he said. “I would say that between 75 and 80 per cent of our clientele is local.”
Being back home is something that Barry truly loves and he feels like he is in his element.
“Every now and then I kind of regret that I didn’t join the Marines, but I believe that everything happens for a reason,” he said. “I would not have met my wife and I wouldn’t have had my kid, so I’m a believer that every decision you make in life happens for a reason.”
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