Cooking with Nicholas
Nicholas Ifill will get his first taste of a big international cooking competition next week. The 20-year-old is part of the Barbados culinary team going to Taste Of The Caribbean in Miami from June 6 to 10.
This is Nicholas’ first time on the team and to say he is a bundle of nerves is an understatement.
“I am very nervous but excited,” he said. “I know I am going to be shaking before I get there. But my nerves help me sometimes to do what I think I cannot do.”
The past student of Luther Thorne Primary got into the culinary area when he was in fourth form at Deighton Griffith Secondary School.
“I picked food and nutrition and I didn’t get in. So I ended up with technical drawing. So when I got into fourth form I picked food and nutrition again. That time I got in.”
He got a grade 2 when he sat it at Caribbean Examinations Council level.
He knew he wanted to make a career out of it and set his sights on the associate degree programme at the hospitality institute (PomMarine) at the Barbados Community College.
He applied three times and was rejected. But Nick, as he is affectionately called, didn’t throw up his hands in despair. He, instead, did evening classes at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic doing building maintenance.
“But PomMarine was my goal so I applied a fourth time and was accepted.”
Nick did the two-year programme in culinary arts and is now a commis chef at Hilton Barbados for the past year, building up his skills.
He holds the title of Junior Chef Of The Year (you are junior chef once you are under the age of 21) as he won the competition put on by the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association to be part of the culinary team.
“That was my first competition. I was hesitant to enter but chef Andre Nurse, who also did the Taste Of The Caribbean, encouraged me.”
Nick said Nurse was also instrumental in training him for the competition.
“I was thinking about it and he said ‘go ahead and do it. All you can do is try’. He told me I have the speed and certain skills and he was upbeat that I could win.”
Nick said when he realised he won he was shocked but he had sacrificed off days and had sleepless nights in preparation.
The competition entailed making two dishes – a signature dish and a mystery basket round.
First up was the signature dish (an hour and a half to finish) where he made a lamb loin stuffed with flying fish stuffing and a shrimp mousse rolled in red cabbage and a He and another chef (Marvin Applewaithe) were the final two selected to go to the last round – the mystery basket.
“That round was two hours, but Andre told me to prepare myself for that. He said to have a concept and make sure I have all the starches and meats covered.
“When I saw the ingredients I knew I was going to do a lamb loin stuffed with shrimp.”
The winner was notified by email.
“I was shocked. I was very hesitant to open it because I didn’t want to see that I didn’t get through. But I saw my name as winner. Marvin was in the competition before and won and I wasn’t looking to beat Marvin . . . I was a bit intimidated by him too,” he said.
He then told his mum, girlfriend and his workmates who were enquiring about the results.
Nick is hoping to add to his resume as he has applied to the September enrolment at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, to do a degree in management with a focus on entrepreneurship.
“I would like to open my own café. My dreams are big. Right now I am focused on applying my mind to my training for the competition. I am learning so much now and hope to use that when I finally become an entrepreneur. ”