Cooking is a Craft: In the limelight with Chef Christopher Sinclair-McCalla

Christopher Sinclair-McCalla, a young, self-motivated, and goal oriented chef-driven wish desire to prepare food. Starting his career in 2013, offering catering services, Chris has found a drive within his work to push forward towards many goals. As a child, he was taught by his family the many “do’s and don’ts” in life. Through this he has found to have patience and respect for many others who have been brought into his world. Also, he has found the strength and determination to pursue his journeys. When in high school the first thoughts of this now aspiring chef/nutritionist were to pursue medicine. Due to some life changes, he has soon pulled away from this path and chose a different direction. Through the encouragement of his parents, as well as some of his aunts, they pushed him to pursue a career in the culinary arts. They saw potential in his “culinary capabilities” and pushed him to follow his passion. Chris is inspired to see others reactions to his work. He stated, “On reflection, I realized that I expressed my love to others, through my cooking. Seeing their facial expressions and hearing their critiques about the meals I prepare, brings me joy and happiness.” With this, a greater confidence has overwhelmed Chris and pushed and inspired him to continue on with his goal and journey.

Although Chris has yet to attend culinary school, he is currently focused on completing a degree in dietetics and nutrition. Currently, he is Attending the University of Jamaica where he is pursuing his bachelor’s; with the goal of his master afterward. With nutrition being his base this will allow for him to combine his knowledge and skills to, in his words, “create meals of great quality that is acceptable to the various constituencies of the public , whether they are gluten intolerant, have diabetes, hypertension, or any other concern requiring dietary management to maintain good health.” With high goals set for himself, he pushes through the many struggles he faces. Though many of his goals are private and personal, Chris shares, that he wants to own a chain of “health-oriented” restaurants and also become a “renowned sports nutritionist.” Though placed in a specific order, he completes one goal at a time, both short and long term. With each completion, he’s one step closer to where he desires to be in life.

Though things are sometimes tough, tiring, and frustrating, Chris focuses on what gives him his drive and inspiration. With encouraging words and prayers, the many who have believed in him have allowed him to find the strength to push through. A bible verse gives him hope. Philippians 4:13 states, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” He says, “I hold this Scripture passage close to my heart because when I think about it, God never gives us tasks, he believes we cannot overcome. He presents us with a task He knows we can handle. This gives me the confidence to confront any challenges that may come my way.”

Chris’ journey is inspirational and he wants to let others know, never be discouraged when faced with a challenge. When under the pressures of being in the workplace, adjust and learn from the given situations. Use this to create your base and foundation for your skills. And lastly, believe in yourself.

Continue below for more inspirational words from this motivated, determined, young chef and aspiring nutritionist:

     “Food has always had some sort of enchanted hold over me. When I think about what food means to me, my thoughts immediately go past the simple nourishment that food provides; far beyond fast food buffets, to something more emotionally and mentally satisfying. To me, food can instantly change the mood you are in. It’s a way of remembering things. Remembering times shared with friends and family, the stories told, how places made me feel, and flashbacks of particular things I may have been feeling or thinking at the time.

When I order any form of Steamed Fish from any restaurant I immediately experience a flashback from 2006. It was one of those rare Sunday dinners where my parents were not at home yet and my sister was required to make dinner. I was 12 years old at the time and was not allowed to cook in the kitchen. My sister who was preparing steamed fish for the family, ended up having an argument with me, because I found steamed fish at that age to be tasteless. She told me to cook my fish and I decided to use the Jamaican Walkerswood Jerk Seasoning, to season the fish, and cook it the same way she did, since I didn’t know any other method of cooking fish. This resulted in my creating Jerk Steamed Fish, which made my family speechless as succulent aromas emerged, during our meal at the dining table. This memory started my culinary journey.

I always associate places with food, so it’s usually the first thing on my mind when I travel. What kind of special food can I get where I am going? When I have jerk chicken I think of Jamaica. When in “The Big Apple”, I find myself close to the street food carts despite how picky I am when it comes to food and the surroundings in which it is prepared.

To me, cooking is one of the most personal and intimate things you can do for someone. You’re literally providing plated nourishment, made with your own hands and creativity. As human beings, eating is essential; a common bond that connects all races, nationalities, and backgrounds. The special thing about a home cooked meal is the feeling of nostalgia – the fellowship experienced with family and friends. It is especially rewarding when you have prepared a special meal that is exquisite and satisfying thus reflected in the smiles of your guests. When cooking, perfection is the key. When I make a dish, presentation is important as this stimulates the appetite.

While I place tremendous importance on the taste and presentation of foods, I am also fully aware that the nutritional value of food, is critical to maintain a healthy society. My passion then, is to focus on creating meals that are lower in calorie content and nutrient dense, compared to foods consumed generally, by the Jamaican populace which could be high in sugar and refined carbohydrates. The nutritional value, in addition to the taste, informs my general approach to food preparation and presentation to ensure a gastronomically satisfying experience.

Food therefore means more to me than the sustenance it provides. It is a nostalgic feeling, which connects you to places, experiences and people, despite different cultures. Food has shaped my identity. It is my way of expressing my creativity and showing love to others resulting in great joy. ” -Chef Christopher Sinclair-McCalla, January 2017