“Never about the money, always about the food.” – Chef Andre Sewell
Usually, the saying goes “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”, but what does one say if the man is a chef. Cooking is indeed a culinary art, and while many have studied, tested and proven dishes, there are very few that have a passion and take the time to master their art.
“I really love cooking and experimenting with flavors and whenever I’m in the kitchen doing such, I always want to 1 up the last time I cooked a particular meal. So, I’d say just a love for food and making it taste great is what inspires me.” – Chef Andre Sewell with Jamaica Yello.
One such chef is Jamaican Andre Sewell who has made it his duty to have his meals “speak for themselves” and has over the years made his culinary skills a necessity at some of Jamaica’s premier food events. His creativity and passion are evident in each and every unique dish that he presents to his customers.
“As far as Jamaican, fusion recipes go, I do ackee and saltfish stuffed jerk chicken, mango bread pudding with cream cheese sauce, ackee and bacon, pan seared scotch bonnet chicken with coconut cream sauce, and savory pancakes with sausages and a creamy jerk sauce, just to name a few.” – Chef Andre Sewell in an interview with Jamaicans.com.
Whether you are buying a meal from his popup or tasting samples at one of his catered events, your palette will definitely thank you for such a wondrous burst of elevated and bold flavors in every bite. Sewell prides himself in curating desserts, but he is always intricately creating new entrées and appetizers.
“When I spend the time and effort developing a recipe, it turns out exactly how I want, and I get to share it with the people around me. The joy and pleasure it brings them make all the effort worth it.” – Chef Andre Sewell.
Truth be told, Andre knows just how to sell his art, as his social media pages show just how much of a lover of food and creating he is. However, all his meals don’t just look good, they are skillfully prepared; after all, you have to be a master if you are going to pull off a very detailed entrée.
“I love taking traditional, local cuisines and pairing them with classic and modern techniques to come up with results that are somewhat familiar, but outside of the box. That being said, my style of cooking would be categorized as fusion cuisine.” – Chef Andre Sewell.
Growing up, Andre had a great deal of respect for his father and the sacrifices that his parents made for him. During his childhood, he had dreams of becoming a pilot, and in his teenage years, his eyes were set on the love of information technology, both far from pursuing cooking as a career. Fast forward, he was a web and graphic designer full time; he brought creativity to designing logos and graphics within his job. However, he cooked as a hobby and the more he got his hands dirty in the kitchen, the more his love for the culinary arts magnified, and that was when he decided to be a full-time chef. The first thing he remembered cooking was box macaroni and cheese – you do have to start somewhere.
“My culinary “prowess” are both self-taught and a God-given talent. I spend a lot of time studying cooking techniques online, via the help of videos and reading and I do my best to understand why and how things food-related work.”- Chef Andre Sewell.
A good chef never leaves home without his tools. Sewell’s most utilized tool is his sharp, good quality chef’s knife and his most used ingredient is the real Jamaica scotch bonnet pepper. Over the years of working, he has made his fair share of best, in between and worst dishes, all of which he has learned a good lesson on how to improve. There is always room for improvement.
He’s a down to earth and simple guy, despite his profession; not every day he’s going to be making a crispy roasted chicken with blackberry red wine gastrique. I mean, sometimes he would just grab a bowl of cereal for dinner, eat eggs or ackee and saltfish for the rest of his life.
“Contrary to popular belief, I’m a very simple person (in my mind). On my most laid back of days, I’ll come home and eat honey nut cheerios. I love honey nut cheerios lol. However, if I were to say something that’s more filling, more elegant, but still easy, I’d have to go with pasta, any kind of pasta with meat that cooks in no time…shrimp, or chicken breast, most likely.” – Chef Andre Sewell.
His days are not set in stone; most times he is either crafting his next recipe, relaxing on the North Coast, preparing for events, or just enjoying life. He is never without a job offer where he has to exhibit his renowned chef skills, but he has had to not accept a lot of them. However, there are some events that mutually benefit him and the country where Jamaican cuisine is elevated, and he is able to aid in the establishment of Jamaica as a culinary tourism destination.
“More and more Caribbean chefs these days, mainly fine dining chefs, are taking on the “minimalist” approach to food. In that, you’re served small portions of food, in gigantic plates, mainly for the sake of fantastic presentation.” – Chef Andre Sewell.
The qualities of a young chef should be: commitment, creativity, openness to learn new things, the ability to improvise and work under pressure are some that come to Sewell’s mind. With that being said, for budding and aspiring chefs, he advises them to never stop learning, to cook outside the box and make your passion your pay cheque. Those three tips have been something he has stood by and ever since they have not failed him, so he passes the wisdom down to those who want to pursue a career in the culinary arts. Simply, it is just like any other career, and as such it requires the same dedication, focus, and persistence.
“Modern chefs should have an ever growing passion for food. They should at all times do their best to attempt to make their food taste better and look more appealing. There should be a great desire to think and cook outside of the box and challenge certain conventions so that their food stands out. And lastly, the flavor should be first.” – Chef Andre Sewell.
By Alexandra Daley