MEET CHEF DACRES

Jamaica Gleaner - - YL - Mickella An­der­son YOUTH­LINK WRITER

“When he stepped out to do his own thing, it was like things fall­ing into place.”

TO CON­SIDER an in­dus­try to be tra­di­tion­ally male or fe­male is cer­tainly a thing of the past as in­creas­ingly, game chang­ers are mak­ing their own rules and break­ing down bar­ri­ers. This is the story of An­thony Dacres, the 20-year-old young man be­hind some of the best meals in the East and mak­ing the kitchen his do­main.

Raised in the fruit­ful, ru­ral parish of St Thomas, Dacres’ brand, ‘Chef Dacres’, is the end re­sult of many years of ob­ser­va­tion, trial and er­ror and, most im­por­tantly, de­ter­mi­na­tion. “I used to watch my mom cook from I was about nine un­til I started, bit by bit, to as­sist. I def­i­nitely can’t go out on a limb and say I was born to do this (laughs), be­cause it took a few not-so-good dishes to per­fect my craft; but that’s just me, al­ways try­ing to get bet­ter,” he told Youth­link.

‘ ‘Ser­vice with a smile’ is my phi­los­o­phy be­cause, be­lieve it or not, food has power; whether it is to bring peo­ple closer to­gether, mend bro­ken re­la­tion­ships or just to put a smile on ’ some­one’s face.

With the ap­par­ent trend of un­em­ploy­ment, bet­ter­ing the odds of find­ing job se­cu­rity was, sim­i­larly, no easy feat for the Ja­maica Col­lege alum­nus. Af­ter high school, he be­came a coach­ing as­sis­tant at the Mo­rant Bay High School just a few doors from his house un­til even­tu­ally, get­ting a foot in the kitchen at the Golden Shore re­sort, also in St Thomas. He de­scribes this first en­counter with ‘chef life’ as eye-open­ing. “I was18 at the time when I first pre­pared a meal for the CEO of the re­sort, Der­rick Hamil­ton; he was amazed and the guests were pleased. That made me re­alise that this could be a vi­able skill for me,” said Dacres. Alas, in Fe­bru­ary 2017, he hung up his Golden Shore apron to hone the Chef Dacres logo, which is now ac­cessed by 18,500 fol­low­ers on In­sta­gram and count­ing. Ivy Buck­ley, a long­time friend, told Youth­link of Dacres’ jour­ney, “He al­ways did the most when he was at Golden Shore with the uni­form and logo, and if you didn’t know him, you would think this is an ex­ec­u­tive chef with his own busi­ness. So, when he stepped out to do his own thing, it was like things fall­ing into place.” “Most of my clients are based over­seas,” Dacres said. “I have also cooked reg­u­larly for Wil­son Chung and his fam­ily, the owner of Joong Su­per­mar­ket and One Stop Hard­ware (in St Thomas). I’ve cooked for Des­mond McKen­zie, min­is­ter of lo­cal gov­ern­ment, and Con­roy Wil­son, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Ashe Per­form­ing Arts.”

He is also no stranger to the me­dia, re­call­ing that, “I’ve been fea­tured by Eat Around Ja­maica ear­lier this year and I was also in­vited to be a part of the live au­di­ence for TVJ’s Day­time Live. My mother, who is al­ways a tower of strength for me, con­vinced me to take sam­ples and wear my uni­form, which I frowned upon at first, but you know how moth­ers are. When I ar­rived at TVJ, the pro­ducer saw that I had food and was well dressed and laughed, say­ing to go to the guests’ room and pre­pare my­self for an in­ter­view. I was the ‘Day­time Xtra’ that day.”

“Ser­vice with a smile is my phi­los­o­phy be­cause be­lieve, it or not, food has power; whether it is to bring peo­ple closer to­gether, mend bro­ken re­la­tion­ships or just to put a smile on some­one’s face. I be­lieve in this power and I aim to ex­e­cute it with ev­ery meal,” he com­mented.

In be­tween celebrity clients and the oc­ca­sional me­dia fea­tures, Chef Dacres says he is work­ing on the big­ger pic­ture of one day hav­ing his own line of prod­ucts mar­keted. He said, “It’s def­i­nitely in the pipe­line, I would say within or five or 10 years this goal should be a re­al­ity. I’m con­fi­dent about my jerk sauce and a host of oth­ers. I want that when you see Mag­gie, Miss Birdie or even Grace, Chef Dacres is right there, too.”

Find Chef Dacres on In­sta­gram: @chef.dacres, on Twit­ter: @chef_­dacres or on Face­book: Chef Dacres. Send him an email: an­tho­nys­gf­dacres@gmail.com or visit his web­site: chefan­tho­ny­dacres.word­press.com.

YL:GAME CHANG­ERS “I’ve been fea­tured by ‘Eat Around Ja­maica’ ear­lier this year and I was also in­vited to be a part of the live au­di­ence for TVJ’s ‘Day­time Live’.”

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