By Nikia Wells
Since Lesanna Simon, Vainete McCoy, Rayanna Watkins, Kristianne Thompson, and Alexa Hunter joined Ravell Rollins in the Showman kitchens, the intern team has been getting a hands on education about the ins and outs of working in a professional culinary environment.
The next several posts in the Showman…. The Next Generation Series will highlight their experiences, as young culinary minds, in their own words….
Meet Alexa – From The Family Dining Room to the Professional Kitchen
“I always associated food with family.
My family is originally from Farmer’s Cay, Exuma but most of us now live in New Providence. Like most people, I first learnt how to cook from my grandmother, Eloise Smith. My grammy – she is 82 and cooks for the whole family, every Thursday, and she invites everyone over to her house. Without a doubt, every single week, we know that we will have a good, home cooked meal. We would all have fun, talk, and crack jokes.
When I was small, I was always curious when she was cooking. So, she would pull up a little stool or crate for me to stand on, and she would let me help her cook. It started with me helping to stir the pot or mixing something, or running and getting something from the cupboard or fridge for her. She was always open to teaching me.
Every single time I make dumpling soup, I think of my grandmother. She cooks the best dumpling soup. As a matter of fact, she makes the best soups I’ve ever had. Dumpling soup. Okra soup. Split peas soup. Stew conch. Stew fish. The best johnny bread ever!…. My grammy can put it down!
My other family members all have their unique touches when cooking. When we get together, we talk about who made what dish, and how they made it. I always found it really interesting that people can have such different interpretations of food, and have such diverse ideas and viewpoints on how to do things in the kitchen.
Since I’ve started my culinary education, I’ve become fascinated about the restaurant management side of things. It is one thing to be good at cooking at home and knowing how to make food taste good, but it’s been so different learning how to cook in a restaurant. You have to learn how to cook food in large batches, in those big ole pots and pans, and how to maneuver in a commercial kitchen.
Even cooking for a party isn’t as simple as I once thought. Instead of just making a big batch of food, getting some cups and forks, and just serving the food, a chef needs to consider allergies, dietary restrictions, how to keep the food at the right temperature, and how to plan to feed everyone over an extended period of time. We all know that a Bahamian party doesn’t always start on time – so you have to consider how to ensure that the people who come early and late, can still enjoy the same quality of food.
Joining Showman has opened my eyes to the possibilities of the culinary world. We have been learning about different flavors, and how so many ‘weird’ ingredient pairings work well together. There have been a few unexpected flavor combinations that just made me say out loud – “Oh my God! This tastes soooo good!”
I’ve also gotten a chance to see first how important time management, coordination, the visual component of food, teamwork and even marketing are in the culinary world. We eat with our eyes even before we take our first bite, and it’s so important to get people excited to try a dish before they even step foot into a restaurant.
Outside of the kitchen, I love watching movies, TV shows and reading about new things. I also love learning about different countries and travel. I want to visit Italy one day. It is my dream destination. I just love the food. I love pasta. I love tomatoes. And, cheese. I love it all.”