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Chefs shine during hospital shifts

Cooking up a storm: Bermuda College students recieve culinary awards. (from left) Irmgard Ong-Aban, Organizational Development Advisor, Farah Ming, Jai-Onni Outerbridge, Chioma Lawrence and Jerome Swainson, Hotel Services Manager (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Three students have completed the Bermuda Hospitals Board’s first culinary internship.

Jai-Onni Outerbridge, 18, Farah Ming, 19, and Chioma Lawrence, 17, of Bermuda College, were awarded their certificates of completion at a small reception in the lobby of King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. The 12-week programme began this year after Jerome Swainson, BHB hotel services manager, and Lynn Fubler, food services manager, learnt that as part of their training, the college’s culinary students had all completed work placements at various local businesses.

BHB’s human resources department and the college together formed the internship programme at the hospital. Three students were then selected after an application process.

“The internship relationship with the Bermuda College and the Bermuda Hospitals Board was established only a few months ago — we pulled it together very quickly,” Mr Swainson said.

“We took on three interns who were only focused on the culinary arts and we brought them into the hospital. A rotational schedule was designed and implemented to give the students maximum exposure to patient and staff meal preparation and service.

“We were looking to have young people who had great ideas, were innovative and who had some grounding in the culinary arts. Many people do not think about the hospital as somewhere that you would come to work as a chef.”

Ms Ming told The Royal Gazette that before attending Bermuda College, she was not entirely sure what career she wanted, but after some exploration of the courses available, she believed culinary arts could fulfil her ambitions. She sees herself as a personal chef or head chef.

“During the culinary programme, most days we would have to come in and get ready to feed the patients,” she said.

“We had to cook everything and then by 8am we would serve. At 11am we would come back in to get ready for lunch — we would cut up sandwiches and prepare salads and things like that to serve the patients.”

Mr Outerbridge said: “I grew up around a restaurant. My great-grandmother owned one in Somerset called Thel’s Cafe. Pretty much from then I knew I wanted to be a chef.

“It is a good feeling to finish the programme and be one of the first students to participate in the new culinary programme at the hospital.

“It has been a good experience and my favourite part has to be working at the cafeteria grill.”

Ms Lawrence also knew at a young age that she wanted a culinary career.

“When I was younger my sister used to bake a lot and I used to watch her,” she said. “I started picking up different things and now I love to bake and want to open my own bakery.

“The programme was difficult because I was so used to cooking at Warwick Academy and doing stuff with a recipe. At the college you cannot rely on that or the teacher, you have to be more independent.”

Mr Swainson hopes more culinary students will apply for the internship in the future.

“I am very pleased to have been a part of the development of this programme and look forward to great things to come in the future,” he said.

“The students represented themselves very well and we look forward our continued relationship producing a pool of trained Bermudian chefs.”

The hospital’s chief operating officer, Scott Pearman, added: “It’s gratifying to see Bermudians cultivating their interest in this field. This will certainly strengthen our ability to provide greater meal choice and could position us so that people look forward to hospital stays because of the great meals they get.”