Tue | Jan 22, 2019

Culinary educator publishes autobiography

Published:Sunday | December 17, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul H. Williams
The cover of Witcliffe A. Doyley's autobiography.
Witcliffe A. Doyley

Witcliffe A. Doyley is a master chef and teaches food preparation and services at the School of Tourism Hospitality and Entertainment Management at the Camp Road campus of the Excelsior Community College.

He holds an MBA from the University of Technology, Jamaica, and is pursuing a PhD in TVET leadership at The University of the West Indies, Mona.

Yet, the initial journey to this juncture in his life was replete with potholes, craters, pitfalls, hurdles, and stumbling blocks.

"Living within the volatile community of Mountain View, he saw many events unfold, including bloodshed, excruciating pains, calamities, untimely deaths and hopelessness," his publishers, Trafford Publishing, write on the back cover of his recently released book, The Power of Vision: Transforming Your Vision Into Reality.

"At different times, real pressure, challenges, and hard times were some of the things he had to contend with." In the book, he narrates some of the details of the challenges he encountered and how he had to overcome them.

"While at Norman Gardens All-Age School, I had to defend myself from criminal elements repeatedly as boys and men from surrounding communities came with knives, ice picks, and other sharp objects ... I was undaunted by these criminal elements because I held the view all humans have one heart, so no one needs to be afraid of the other person," he writes.

From all-age-school he went on to Kingston Technical High School. But at the end of high school, he left without passing any external exams.

Disillusionment set in. "All I saw at that point were my failures, my lack of accomplishments, which brought me to tears. Oh, yes, I cried, and cried uncontrollably," he says.

He realised that his disillusionment was as a result of his underperformance, decided to take his life into his own hands, and made a five-year plan. He activated the plan by enrolling at HEART College of Hospitality Services in Runaway Bay, St Ann, where he pursued a six-month course in food preparation and services. That was the turning point in his life.

"While at HEART, I discovered my true potential. I learnt that I have a natural skill to cook," he recalls. After leaving HEART, at age 21, he got a job in the capacity of catering matron, managing a school cafeteria and the meals for boarders.

He moved on to another kitchen manager's job at another teaching institution, where the student-teachers were impressed with the way in which he explained concepts and processes. He was encouraged by the trainees to go into the teaching profession himself. But he had no CXC passes.

For three years, Doyley struggled to meet the matriculation requirements for enrolment in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at UTech the University of Technology, Jamaica. He got in, but going to UTech was not cheap, and he did not have enough funds.

A loan from the Student Loans Bureau and financial support from an older brother, Raymond, helped to keep him at UTech. To gain experience, he worked for free at different hotels in Kingston. Because of his attitude towards his 'free' work at The Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel, he got paid employment as a kitchen staffer and was later promoted. It was school in the days and work at night.




"Just before this main source of income, there were tough, sustained, hard financial times," Doyley writes. He recalls, at times, he had to walk from his home in Vineyard Town to the UTech campus in Papine.

At the end of four years, he walked away with an honours degree in food service production and management and education. He was the recipient of The Most Outstanding Future Teacher in Food Service Production and Management Award.

Since then, Doyley has also obtained a chef de cuisine certificate from the Culinary Institute of America; worked in two leading hotels in Jamaica; taught for over 10 years at the tertiary level, including teaching at two of Jamaica's leading universities; and has made significant contributions to the certification and development of students in the field of hospitality and tourism management.

Doyley is an academic assessor of food preparation and service and food and beverage management courses for HEART/NTA trainees. He aspires to go into national policy-making after completing his PhD.

"TVET, as a vehicle for holistic development, needs to be rebranded, especially in Jamaica. At present, it is looked upon as a second option for young people, and it carries a negative connotation ... This discourse has to start with parents, students, and administration," Doyley told Arts & Education.

As for the reasons for publishing his autobiography, he said he wants to reach college students who might be experiencing challenges; members of the general public who are yet to achieve the success that they have envisioned; young people who are victims of poverty.

"In fact, poverty is a state of mind. it does not, and must never determine your outcomes, be they short- or long-term," he said.