St Ann man living his dream of 'cheffing' upMonday, July 05, 2021
BY AKERA DAVIS
OCHO RIOS, St Ann — Winston “Tammo” Thompson spent most of his years working as a bellman at a hotel in Ocho Rios, St Ann. He did his job well, but his heart was elsewhere. He dreamed of being a chef.
“I can remember being at work in the lobby and just staring at the food presentations and [thinking] how they looked so beautiful on the plates. Mi just always wish to be in the kitchen 'cheffing' up,” said the 54-year-old.
But, the income he earned from being a bellman kept him from quitting and pursuing his dream of being in the kitchen.
“Mi could make more money from being a bellman because mi get to interact with most of the guests, help them around, and they would give me some nice tip,” he said.
Then, in 2001, the Runaway Bay resident lost his job and saw it as an opportunity to finally live his dream of making delicious meals. He prepared and sold dishes from his home, but in 2014 an accident left him bedridden and his dream once again on hold.
“Mi get hit down by a bike and mi think mi couldn't walk again,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
Luckily, that was not the case, and six years later a determined Thompson revived his passion for cooking. Since then he has been preparing and selling tasty dishes from a tent erected on the main road in Salem, Runaway Bay.
“Once mi realise that I was able to move around, mi decide to start cook again. Right now business is going good because everybody love the food. People say mi 'tie' them, because the food 'bad',” said Thompson. “Food preparation is not even my profession, but the way how I deal with the food with love, a lot of people think I went to school for it.”
His passion for cooking, he explained, began at an early age.
“A from [mi] a little youth mi a cook, and it's something that I found myself doing all the time. I can remember cooking my ackee and dumplings and mi use to just feel good when people eat it and tell mi that they enjoy the food,” he said enthusiastically.
He gets the same joy today from his paying customers' reactions to his meals. Every day some people, like Davian Robinson, travel from Discovery Bay — an almost two-hour drive — to get their favourite dishes.
“I have to come here and buy my food, because I don't go anywhere else and get [food], especially steam fish, that taste good,” Robinson told the Observer.
“Tammo really a do a good job, the food taste good and him keep the place clean; that's why mi always support him,” added Shantae Smith.
This reaction from his customers is what drives Thompson.
“Money is not my priority; it is the people and making them happy. When they eat the food and they are pleased it makes me feel good,” he said.
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