Wed | Oct 21, 2020

Father committed to starting catering company

Published:Sunday | September 20, 2020 | 6:32 AMTamara Bailey - Sunday Gleaner writer
Alton Small in the kitchen.
Alton Small in the kitchen.
Alton Small jerks some chicken.
Alton Small jerks some chicken.

ELLEN STREET, Manchester:

There is something about a man who will do everything he can to give his children all the love and support he did not receive much of as a child, and Alton Smith is committed to the lifestyle of being the best father to his three children.

For years, Small lacked the attention and love that only a mother can give. He has no idea who his father is, and he had to learn the ropes of looking out for his own well-being from early.

“I grew up very poor. I spent a few years in Kingston with a lady, and my mother was also in Kingston at the time, but we weren’t together. I was later sent to St Ann to my father’s relatives, and then a family friend took me to Manchester to live with my grandparents, who raised me,” he said.

Small said he only began seeing his mother regularly when she got older and sick and started travelling from Kingston to Manchester frequently.

“By this time, I was working at a store, and things were looking up a little more. I was very strategic, and that is when I took up the opportunity to learn alongside other chefs and started working with them,” he told Family and Religion.

These experiences, he said, along with the support of his late grandparents, were elements that fuelled his fire, and his desire was no longer to build a life for himself, but a home his mother could share.

“I put aside even my interests and well-being, and I worked day and night to support my family and build this section for her (mother). I started it in 2013 and was hoping she would have it to move into by 2016, but cancer took her out,” he lamented.

The self-taught chef said he worked in the food and beverage industry for over 15 years, but the jobs that were able to put food on his able, take care of his children, and other relatives are now few and rare, and he has since fallen on hard times.

“I was working with some friends of mine. I have been to other Caribbean islands where I helped friends set up their restaurants, and that is what was able to help me get what I was able to get. But since 2016, I have been in a hard place.”

He continued: “I started doing a little private taxi work and selling fruits from my car, but the other day, the metropolitan police confiscated everything. The well over $22,000 I used to purchase the items gone, and that was the last of it.

Depressed, with no immediate way out, Small said the thought came to him to capitalise on his skills and make do with a building he already has.

Small is now looking to transform the room, bathroom, kitchen, and living room he had added to his house for his late mother into a kitchen and sanitisation and storage area for his catering business.

“I am really seeking some help to retrofit the space. The items don’t have to be new. If there is anybody in the restaurant business that have items they are changing out and they are in good working condition, I would appreciate it. I would like an industrial stove, fryer, a candy stove, two extractor fans, and a prepping table and for the sanitising area, a triple-compartment sink,” he said.

With quite a bit of work needed to be done before the space is retrofitted, Small said he has always been hustling, and as long as there is something he can do, he will do what is necessary.

“The areas need to be tiled, there are no windows and doors, and it needs painting. If I get some tile, I can tile it myself, and I have friends who will chip in and help when I get the items … . I have a door, and if I need to get another door, I will use doors from other parts of the house ... . I just want a little start.”

Small said that he has never subscribed to being totally dependent on anyone and has always managed to be working or finding avenues for income earning, but when hard times come, the wheels on the motor need to be shifted.

“It pains my heart to know that how I would want to help my children, I can’t, and I know what I am capable of doing. I have the passion, I can do the work. I will get the work in, but right now, I just need that first start to be able to get things rolling.”

To assist Alton Small, call (876)384-5601 or email