Wed | Jun 19, 2019

Certified pastry chef achieves dreams despite major struggles

Published:Thursday | September 13, 2018 | 12:10 AMLatara Boodie/Gleaner Writer
The decorations on the cakes are edible and hand made by Nicholas Douglas.
The decorations on the cakes are edible and hand made by Nicholas Douglas.
The decorations on the cakes are edible and hand made by Nicholas Douglas.

Nicholas Douglas, is like a beacon that depicts the overcoming of true adversity. The now Certified Pastry Chef and Chef de Cuisine, says "It was always my dream from a very young age to become a chef who is versatile, able to do many areas of food preparation and presentation," said Douglas who learnt how to cook rice and peas from the age of seven. With guidance from a father who is known for his expertise in mixing flavors, and a mother who relishes the art of real Jamaican pastry making, cooking was like second nature for Douglas.

However, life was not without its challenges and Douglas graduated from Junior High, unable to read, write or do basic calculations. His only option at the time was to enroll at the Jamaica Foundation for Life Long Learning. He spent two years there and mastered the skills mentioned before. An opportunity came for him to attend Girl's Town Training Centre on Maxfield Avenue in Kingston.


A dream fulfilled


It was a HEART Trust-NTA certified institution, allowing him to pursue the Level 1 Food Preparation and Management course. He also learnt the art of cake decorating which is a dream he wanted to fulfill.

During this period, Douglas entered the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission's (JCDC) Culinary Arts Competition and was awarded gold and silver for his wedding and celebration cakes. He entered consistently and received numerous medals and awards. It was while entering the competition, that the Western Hospitality Institute (WHI), located in Montego Bay, offered him a scholarship to pursue an Associate Degree in Culinary Chef Management. He also received a Fellowship at WHI, offered by the European Union, to pursue a course in Italian Cuisine and Wine Appreciation. Going to Italy opened a world of opportunities for Douglas, but he never forgot his roots.

After completing a Bachelor of Science Degree, he offered his services to the JCDC as a presenter, doing island wide workshops. The teachers and community leaders were so impressed that they invited him to their institutions to impart his knowledge.

Apart from serving on the staff at WHI, he has acquired international certification, and currently works with a five star hotel in the U.S.