Le Cordon Bleu wants Randie Anderson
Jody-Anne Lawrence, Gleaner Writer
Being a chef gives Randie Anderson such joy when people love his dishes as much as he loves preparing them. Thus, his first love is one that he will never have to worry about breaking up with.
He was infatuated with the idea of civil engineering for a while. This was due to the fact that he was a student at St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS). "Being a student of STETHS you are exposed to quite a few technical subjects, so that is what I was interested in initially," Anderson tells Flair.
All this changed in Anderson's mid-teens when he was working in a small restaurant doing dishes at the back. Eventually, he started to prepare meals and then he found his love. "I had cooked before with my mother and grandmother; it was just that being in a restaurant made me decide to do it professionally," said Anderson.
He has garnered a great deal of experience and qualifications over the years. He read for an associate degree in culinary arts and restaurant management from the Art Institute of New York City, after which he decided to apply for a scholarship at Le Cordon Bleu. This was a big leap of faith for Anderson, as Le Cordon Bleu is one of the most recognised culinary institutions in the world and hence one of the most competitive to get into much less to receive a scholarship.
Anderson has worked at several top Jamaican hotels, which include Grand Lido Negril as both junior and senior sous chef, and Hedonism II Resort and Spa as the executive chef. Being the current executive chef of Montego Bay Convention Centre, Anderson was at work when he received an email telling him that he had not only got into the prestigious institution, but that he had gotten one of two half scholarships awarded for a masters in gastronomic tourism with the Southerncross University located in Australia.
"I was elated! Le Cordon Bleu is the pinnacle of the culinary world and I aimed to get in, and to hear that I was selected was an extraordinary accomplishment," Anderson revealed to Flair.
He is at the high point of his life but this journey, was not always an easy one and not without its mishaps. It was a hard journey, but like every love story, you just cannot walk away from the thing that has your heart. "It has been very hard. You would work so hard and then you say you need a break, and after two days I just have to get back into the kitchen. There is something about the kitchen that keeps you coming back. It is just therapeutic in a sense," Anderson said.
His take on stress relief? "If you are stressed or overwhelmed, go in the kitchen and prepare something. You will see how quickly your troubles are forgotten."
With this said, Anderson does not have a particular dish that he loves to prepare. He mentioned that he just loves being in the kitchen and whatever he prepares he does it to the best of his ability, but he cannot pinpoint one thing that he loves most. "I have been asked that question so many times and I am yet to find an answer for it," Anderson said. "I just try to give my all in what I prepare. If I give you bun and cheese it will be the best bun and cheese, but I can't say what my favourite is," he added.
When he is out of the kitchen he loves to spend his downtime fishing or spending it with his family. Though he is a chef, he does not try new recipes on his family. He adds that his mother is quick to remind him that he got his culinary skills from her and he is yet to pass her expertise. He does love to visit his mother and reminisce what it is to sit down and have that home-cooked meal.
Just as his mother passed down her skill to him, Anderson has already started to teach his seven-year-old son how to cook. "He can be anything he wants to - a doctor or lawyer, whatever it is. However, I believe that it is my duty as a father to give him a skill so that if all else fails him, he has something to fall back on," Anderson said.
Anderson had one tip for upcoming chefs: "Educate yourself," he said, "Keep educating yourself with regards to food. Read and read. Talk food. You may work for a chef and he might not have the time to take you by the hand and show you everything, so you have to do the groundwork."