WILWORE JORDAN has worked in about ten kitchens in his stint as a chef. While that number might seem far-fetched, after-all he is only 43, he said the experiences were necessary as what he has learnt at each one is a stepping stone to his final destination – executive chef.
If Wilwore’s dad had his way he would have been a policeman, said the past student of St Bernard’s Primary, Alleyne Secondary and the hospitality institute of the Barbados Community College.
“He was always about abiding by the law and I wanted to lock up the lawbreakers,” said Wilwore, smiling sheepishly at the memory.
EASY magazine sat down with the chef at Divi Southwinds Hotel, in Christ Church. He is in training as part of the 2016 team vying to represent Barbados at the Taste Of The Caribbean event in Miami, Florida in June.
Wilwore’s journey to where he is now took some twists and turns. He has been a commis chef, then a junior chef and also a head chef, all in 20 years.
Wilwore’s first job was at age 18, in a supermarket. He bounced from job to job as he quickly became bored.
At age 23 he was convinced by a friend, who was a kitchen assistant, and was getting the opportunity to cook as well, to seek work in the same field.
It piqued his interest and he applied for a job at Chefette as a cook.
“Then I got a job as a kitchen assistant at the then Oasis Hotel so I was doing both jobs at the same time, one in the morning and one in the evening for about six months.
Wilwore was set on being a chef, so after washing up he would “run over” and watch what the chefs were doing.
“One day the head chef asked me if I was interested in cooking. I said I was more interested in baking. He asked me what a pudding was and I explained my concept to him. What he then explained to me what is a pudding was entirely different. He asked if he could teach me and I said OK.”
The chef asked Wilwore what he wanted to learn and he was informed then what a good chef should be.
That started his journey in the hotel industry.
Wilwore stayed at Oasis for a year learning under the chef and left for Bagshot Hotel (Worthing). While there he got a call saying they were looking for chefs for Accra in 2000. He took that opportunity.
“I did a year and a half there as a commis chef. While at Accra I got the opportunity to train for free at the Cliff one day a week.”
Wilwore said he did it for the experience.
“I wanted to soak up all the knowledge I could. I cooked that one day I was there and after a few weeks the chef was so impressed he asked me to join the team.”
Wilwore started out as a trainee chef doing starches and vegetables and grill work. He then left there and went to Sandy Lane Hotel where he stayed for one and a half years.
Then the former chef from Oasis, who then now head chef at Carib Beach Bar, asked him to come and work for him as a second in command. He did that for a year.
Now is where the story gets more interested.
Wilwore left that job in 2003 because of the Barbados Culinary team.
“I saw the team returned from Taste Of The Caribbean with all their medals. I then remembered that chef Michael Hinds had told me that if I wanted to come back to Sandy Lane I could at any time.”
After mulling it over Wilwore decided to go.
“I realised that Carib Beach Bar would not take me where I wanted to go. I wanted the experience and exposure to further my career.”
He stayed at Sandy Lane for nine years working his way up from commis chef 1 to acting junior sous chef and in that time period he made the Barbados Culinary two times – 2011 (held in Puerto Rico) and 2012 (Miami).
On his first try he didn’t make it. His second time he came fourth but the team manager saw his potential and allowed him to train with the team.
In 2010 the team won Best Use Of Beef. In 2011 the team won the Certified Angus Beef ® Competition at the Taste of the Caribbean, along with nine gold medals and a silver medal.
He took a lead role in preparing the team’s proteins and since that year the competition was geared for individuals, Wilwore got an added incentive for serving the finest dish using Angus Beef.
He won a grand tour of an Angus cattle ranch, feedlot and meatpacking company in Texas and was asked to be the ambassador for the beef brand. He is the only one in Barbados and one of three in the Caribbean.
“In 2012 the team didn’t do as well as we only got silver.”
He likes working with fish and for EASY he did a saltfish dish.
“I am an innovative chef. I like to do Wilwore. When I wrote menus I did dishes that were me. You could find smoked salmon soup on it, a flying fish sandwich with a fish mousse,” he said.
Wilwore has been at The Cliff for the past two years and is in training three days a week trying to make the culinary team.
“Right now there are four senior chefs, two juniors and two pastry chefs in training. Going to Miami will be two seniors and one junior and one pastry and an assistant chef to help.”
Wilwore is hoping to make the cut.
“I love being a chef. The ability to create something beautiful and to watch someone eat it and enjoy it and give you accolades is a tremendous experience.”
Wilwore said being on the team was nervewracking, but he thrived on the adrenalin.
“We have a good team. Good managers. I love it. I love competing.
“I would like us to bring back all or as many awards as possible. If I get to cook I would like to win Individual Chef Of The Year.”
And while he is concentrating on that competition he is also looking towards his future.
“A good chef is a leader who can motivate and be consistent, have tolerance and patience. Be a leader as opposed to a manager. In five years time I hope to be and executive chef so I can impart my skills and knowledge.”