YES Programme trainees learn culinary arts at Club Kactus

Members of the new culinary arts class at Club Kactus. Instructor, award-winning chef, Patrick Browne is standing on the right

St. Kitts (February 16, 2010) — Award-winning Kittitian chef, Patrick Browne, has recently met the challenge that has eluded him in the past 26 years as a chef, which he is taking head-on. He is training a group of 24 young Kittitian men and women to be chefs in their own right.

When Browne was approached by Leslie Connor, manager at the YES Programme Secretariat, and asked to facilitate a new class in the field of culinary arts, he graciously accepted. He felt that the country had offered him much, and the only way he could show appreciation was to pass on the knowledge, which he has accumulated in the 26 years he has worked in the industry, to others.

“This is payback time and I am happy to be sharing knowledge with these youths,” said Browne recently at Club Kactus in Bird Rock, where he is conducting the classes, which started on January 11. “This is a culinary class, which falls under food and beverages but the emphasis here is culinary arts.”

All the students in this culinary arts class are new, having registered with the Youth Empowerment through Skills (YES) Programme, at the beginning of this year.

Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas launched the programme last year. According to Leslie Connor, it was initially for a period of six months, but the government has extended it indefinitely due to the needs among the youths in the country, occasioned by the worldwide recession.

Just three weeks into their training, the students in Patrick Browne’s class held a demonstration to show some of the skills they had learned. While they intend to show their skills to the public in future, they had invited YES Programme secretariat staff, who included Leslie Connor, Ethel Francis and Vaughn Edmeade.

“We have been together just about one month,” observed Instructor Browne. “From the demonstration they did last week, they are beyond where they are supposed to be. They are progressing quite nicely and I am anticipating that in the next two months they will be able to do a lot more stuff. With a little more brushing up I am certain they can do very well and of course present themselves very well.”

Patrick Browne, who has been a chef for the past 26 years, has worked in a number of establishments in St. Kitts, including on cruise ships. His crowning moment was when working under his private company, Vegas Pots Limited, he won the Chef of the year twice.

“I went to New York to represent St. Kitts competing for the Caribbean Chef, which I also won,” observed Browne. “I did some cooking for the heads of state and government at the prestigious Waldorf Astoria in New York, and I also did some cooking at Bloomingdales Department Store in New York.”

Two of Browne’s students, Everson Stanley 18 years old, originally from Sandy Point but now lives in West Farm and Dallon Whyte 22 years old, originally from Irish Town but now lives in Sandy Point, told how they have benefitted since joining the culinary arts class, after having wasted precious time doing hard work at a quarry.

“I used to work at a quarry in Nevis but that was not going so well, so I came back and I got a place at the YES Programme and started to do food and beverage, and I coming on quite nicely,” said Stanley. “I heard about YES Programme from friends who told me that it caters for the youth by giving them training in various fields and sending them for job attachments. So, I gave it a trial, as it is still continuing and I am proud I am in it.”

Dallon Whyte had a short stint at the Marriott, where he worked in the stores handling raw food. After he left the job, he went over to Nevis where he worked at a quarry. He soon realised that was not his calling, and on returning to St. Kitts, he was pleasantly informed that YES Programme was still recruiting and he opted to join the culinary arts class.

“I love to cook, and I do all my cooking,” said Whyte. “At the Marriott I was in the store handling food but not the cooking. Now this course with the YES Programme puts me in the line of cooking. The training is working. I am trying to gain the 26 years experience my teacher has, in the few months we have here. I might not get the full 26 years, but I might get 25.”

Stanley said that if he successfully completes the current training, he might still want to further his training such that when he goes for employment in the future, he would start at the very top based of the qualifications he hopes to obtain. As for Whyte, he said: “I really want to pursue a career as a chef, full time employed. I want to fall into his (Patrick Browne) footsteps.”

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