A Chef’s Life: Andre Sewell
Here’s an amazing chance to win a ticket for you and a friend to one of these five Jamaica Food and Drink Festival events:
All you need to do is join us with your answers on IG Live @yellojm on Friday, 19 October at 3pm. Read carefully, some clues are in this article. Come #ParWidWi!
Chef Andre Sewell’s creativity in the kitchen seemingly knows no bounds. His Instagram is a foodie’s dream filled with photos of skilfully prepared dishes and desserts boasting interesting, unique flavours and combinations. Think ackee cream sauce, smoked mango and lime cheesecake, pumpkin praline bread pudding, and BBQ sausage ragout…
Andre’s food doesn’t just look good, he’s the real deal and will be showing off those culinary chops at Pork Palooza, a Jamaica Food and Drink Festival 2018 event.
Let’s dive into Andre’s life as a chef.
What’s for dinner?
Depends on the day. Sometimes it’s Honey Nut Cheerio’s, sometimes it’s something fancier. Last dinner I cooked at home was crispy roasted chicken with a blackberry red wine gastrique, served with bacon fat roasted potato salad.
What’s your favourite food/spice to work with?
I don’t really have favourites of anything but I do love cooking with scotch bonnet peppers.
Have you always known you wanted to be a chef?
Actually, no. As a kid, I wanted to be a pilot in the army. In my teens, I started loving Information Technology and that’s where I got my training. I was a full time web and graphic designer up until a few years ago. The more I cooked, the more my love for it grew until my passion completely changed and I decided to be a full time chef.
Explain your cooking style in three words.
Elevated, bold flavours.
If you had to pick a dish to eat every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Contrary to popular belief, I’m a very simple guy. If that everyday dish wasn’t eggs, it’d definitely be ackee and saltfish.
Tell me about what you do on a day-to-day basis.
My days aren’t really set in stone. I’m currently sitting in a hotel room in Ocho Rios, replying to this email. Yesterday for instance, I spent time returning equipment I rented for an event I did the day before that. On that day, I was cooking and setting up for said event. When I have events, I spend my day and the days before it, prepping and ensuring things are going according to planned. Outside of that, I chill a lot J.
What was the first thing you remember cooking?
Sad to say, outside of frying eggs, boxed mac and cheese L.
Tell me the best thing about your job.
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, makes all the effort worth it.
The worst thing about your job?
Possibly, the amount of time I have to spend away from my family sometimes. There are times when I have to leave home at 2am and I don’t get back until late in the night or even the next day. So far, however, I’ve never had to spend days or weeks away on work.
What’s your favourite/most impressive thing you’ve ever made?
I can’t say off the top of my head, but I’m next to certain that it’s a dessert.
What’s the worst thing you’ve made?
I was cooking a vegan dish once, using soba noodles. It tasted really great, but good lord it was so ugly! Lol. Soba noodles are made of buckwheat, so it was brown. Additionally, it started to soften in the sauce I made for it and it just looked like a big mushy mess to me. Maybe it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve made, but it’s the first thing that comes to mind.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Focus! Truth is I wasn’t a very good student…maybe intentionally. I didn’t care for school or things related. I was just going because my parents sent me.
What advice would you give aspiring chefs?
Never stop learning. Cook outside of the box. Make your passion your pay cheque.
What dessert would you want on your birthday?
Wow! Some kind of cheesecake. Possibly some kind of brownie cheesecake.
Why is an event like the Jamaica Food and Drink Festival important and what does it mean to you to be involved?
I love what JFDF represents. I get requests to do events like these all the time, but I tend not to accept a lot of them. This one however, is seeking to establish Jamaica as a culinary tourism destination. That fits right into my desire to elevate Jamaican cuisine, both in flavour and presentation.
What’s your personal motto?
Never about the money, always about the food.
To see more of the mouth-watering dishes coming out of Andre’s kitchen, check him out on Instagram @andre.cooks.
You can also experience Chef Andre’s tasty dishes at Pork Palooza on 20 October, a fantasy night for pork lovers.
For more information on the Yello-sponsored Jamaica Food and Drink Festival, a showcase of the nation’s immense culinary talent, check out the festival’s website, Facebook page, and Instagram (@jafoodanddrink).