Yes Chef! with Chef Brian Lumley

The Bio

Born:
Jamaica

Training:
Runaway Bay HEART Institute
Culinary Institute of America

Restaurant/Company:
689 by Brian Lumley, Jamaica
Foodie Focused Limited, Jamaica

Recent Distinctions:
2013 Chef of the Year
Caribbean Tourism Organization

2012 & 2008 Chef of the Year
Taste of Jamaica

Today we present the latest edition of  “Yes Chef!” – our series of interviews with of the culinary masters of the Caribbean – featuring Chef Brian Lumley, a Jamaican culinary wunderkind doing his part to change the face of Caribbean cuisine.

Born and raised in Jamaica, Chef Lumley got an early start, inspired by his mother, whom he describes as his main motivation and first teacher in the kitchen. Chef Lumley received his training at the Runaway Bay HEART Institute, a joint programme with the Culinary Institute of America, and has quickly demonstrated his prowess: winning the coveted Taste of Jamaica “Chef of the Year” award in 2008 and again in 2012– making him, at 21 and 25 years old respectively, the youngest chef to win the award. Chef Lumley competed with the Gold medal-winning Jamaica National Culinary team at the 2009 Taste of Caribbean in Puerto Rico. Chef Lumley walked away with a personal bronze medal at the event. At the 2010 Taste of Jamaica competition he was awarded the Hans Schenk Prize for “Most Innovative Use of Caribbean Ingredients” and in 2013 Chef Lumley was recognized as “Caribbean Chef of the Year” by the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

EAT The Caribbean: When did you realize that you wanted to be a chef?

Chef Brian Lumley: Growing up, I was always encouraged to help out in the kitchen and it was no secret that I loved to eat! It wasn’t until my teen years when my mother opened her own restaurant on Langston Road in Kingston that I got a taste of the restaurant life and although I was getting good grades in accounting, I knew from that time that a 9-5 desk job was not what I wanted. I wanted to become a chef.

I’d describe my style of cooking as a celebration of modern Jamaican cuisine with influences from French, Asian and Italian cuisines.

ETC: What other chefs, Caribbean or otherwise, have influenced you most? How?

BL: There are a number of chefs that have influenced me on my journey as a chef. One of which is Marcus Samuelsson – I admire the way he honours his multi cultutral heritage through his dishes and the manner in which he diversifies his brand.

ETC: How would you describe the state of Caribbean cuisine and where do you see it going?

BL: As a professional in the culinary industry, I think Caribbean cuisine has grown considerably over the past decade. With regional culinary competitions such as the Taste of the Caribbean, chefs are able to compete and simultaneously raise the bar for contemporary Caribbean cuisine. Also, the number of critically acclaimed restaurants that have opened are testament to this growth.

ETC: Do you cook at home, and if so, what is your favourite dish to prepare?

Cooking at home is akin to therapy for me. If time permits, I pour myself a glass of wine and roast a tender cut of lamb, seasoned right to the bone in a melange of spices.

ETC: What is the most under-appreciated or overlooked ingredient that you are a fan of?

BL: It’s not an ingredient but I love working with fresh local produce. Jamaica is blessed with fertile soil that gives food unbelievable flavour.

ETC: You recently held the Budding Chefs camp. Tell us more about the camp and your inspiration for starting it?

BL: The rationale behind Budding Chefs, which [I started with my] sister Stephanie in 2012, is that of combating childhood obesity. We have seen the upward trend of childhood obesity in Jamaica and decided to do something about it. Budding Chefs is our way of tackling what many have deemed a global epidemic.

ETC: What’s next for Chef Brian Lumley?

BL: Perfecting the menu at my new restaurant, 689 by Brian Lumley and also navigating the world of entrepreneurship.

Thank you Chef Lumley for taking the time to share your thoughts and inspirations with us! Stay tuned for more culinary conversations with the best and brightest chefs of the Caribbean right here on EAT The Caribbean! If you’re a chef, or know of one we should interview, connect with us on Twitter and let us know.

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