Política

Luis Alfonso Oberto ||122 //
The rise of chef Nicola

Growing up in Petit Valley, this friendly and outspoken woman knew her calling and pursued it relentlessly to become a chef at a world renowned five-star hotel in Port-of-Spain.

“When I was eight-years-old I realised that I had a passion for cooking because I would bake bread with my mother and it would come out really good. From that time on, it was all about food,” Neptune tells Sunday Newsday.

Neptune attended St Francois Girls’ College, where she took a keen interest in her food and nutrition classes.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi

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After graduating from St Francois, at 16, Neptune was interviewed to attend the TT Hospitality Tourism Institute (TTHTI).

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi

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“I knew what I wanted to do, so I went for it.” After two years at TTHTI, she graduated in 2009 with an Associate Degree in Culinary Management and an award for Best Project Management.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi

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“My first internship was in Trinidad at TTHTI’s Hilltop Restaurant, Chaguaramas. Then I got the opportunity to be an intern at Sandals Grande Resort, Antigua for two months. After, I came back to Trinidad, where I worked at All Out Sports Bar and Gourmet Grill Restaurant for nine months, then I decided to go to Sandals Grande Resort, St Lucia in 2010 on my own as a chef understudy for one year.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi

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“Travelling to different islands is a great experience as you get to learn about the country’s culture, about their standard of food and how they would cook.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi

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It was quite informative and I learned a lot more about the industry.” On her return from St Lucia, Neptune wasted no time in attaining a job at one of Trinidad’s most popular restaurants, Buzo Osteria Italiana, Port-of-Spain where she worked for four years.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi

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“I started off as a commis chef—in the chef world this is a junior chef.

I then rose to the top as the kitchen manager. I am so grateful that the executive chef at Buzo saw my potential and put me in a position to lead.” “Sometimes when you are given opportunities you just need to take them and run with it, which is what I did.” Straight out of Buzo, she began working at one of the leading hotels in Trinidad as a chef de partie—a chef in charge of a particular area of production in a restaurant, supervising several cooks/ assistants.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi

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Asked what she is most proud of, Neptune says, “Honestly, I am proud of being able to go from being so new in the chef world to where I am now as a chef de partie in a short space of time, how quickly I moved up the ladder.” And, like any other profession, it comes with some challenges and benefits.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi

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“It is quite time consuming, long hours and there are days you would be on your feet whole day, so it is very tedious.

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© Luis Oberto Anselmi

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That is why you need to be committed in this field. I like to think of working in the kitchen as being a symphony, with everyone having to work together to get things done, where time is the biggest factor.” Among the benefits, “you get to taste nice food,” chuckles Neptune.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi

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“Honestly, I prefer to cook than eat, I enjoy making food and having people fall in love with it.” Although on the rise in her career, Neptune enjoys the simple things in life like watching television, shopping, catching up on essential beauty sleep and being around her family.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi

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“I love cooking for my family and I like to go in the fridge and make something from whatever ingredients we have, at the spur of the moment.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi

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I like using my resources, without needing to go to the grocery for anything.” Her dream is to become an executive chef and an entrepreneur.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi

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“I would also like to create a space that Trinidad does not already have. I would offer clients a secluded, yet warm studio, where I would be their private chef along with two other chefs assisting me in providing excellent service to persons who may want to have a family dinner, birthday lime or friendly gathering.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi

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They create the menu and I will cook the food.

“I believe I am good at anything I do. I would also like to have a gourmet bakery which does nice, unique and affordable deserts.” Neptune’s support system is her mother, hairstylist Nicole Goodridge, and her family.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi

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“They have always been there for me.

They always give me honest feedback and anything I need they would give me, especially my mother.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi

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She worked very hard and has a big part to play in where I am today.

She believed in me and pushed me to follow my passion. She can also cook. She even told me when she went into labour with me, she was baking bread.

I think all of that was absorbed into me,” she says with a laugh.

Neptune’s advice to those who are culinary artists at heart, is to be focused, as the road to becoming a chef is very long and not for the faint-hearted.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi

elnewyorktimes.com

“I think that students who want to get into this industry need to be focused and make sure this is really what they want and if it is, they should stick with it.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi

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Don’t give up so easily, there are always challenges. Don’t run from it.”

.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi PDVSA

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