(PRESS RELEASE) — “After my job training at Sandals Grande Saint Lucian Spa and Beach Resort, I knew that was where my heart wanted to be, so I applied to be a porter. When I got the call for the interview, although a hurricane was coming, I still went. I can remember clearly people walking around the resort with their big yellow coats on, and I got the job. That was actually Tropical Storm Emily that hit Saint Lucia, and that was in 2005. After that I just fitted in. I worked as a casual and as a grade one cook and stayed until 2010.”
Now, many years and adventures later, Hornan Refer Leonce has rejoined the company, as the sous chef at Sandals Regency La Toc Golf Resort & Spa.
The endless possibilities for growth and development are what drove him back in 2018.
“Lots of opportunities are available and I have job security which is very important to me. The company is a chain, and so we can get to work at the other resorts. I love what I do. I am very passionate about my job. I look forward to coming to work every day,” he said.
While Chef Refer is very enthusiastic about what he does on the job, he is also very passionate about how he can influence students who may be interested in a career in food and beverage. He said that while they look up to him, he looks forward to teaching them different ways of doing things. This is his way of giving back, and it makes him feel good.
“This is why I look forward to going to school and working with the students,” he said.
Chef Refer became involved with working with students through the Chefs in Schools programme which is run by the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association (SLHTA).
“We go to schools over a period of time, offering practical insights to students who then participate in a local competition. The overall winner then takes part in a regional competition in Barbados called the Caribbean Dueling Challenge. In February of this year I was at Vide Bouteille Secondary doing demonstrations in plating and styling,” he explained.
Chef Refer remains committed to working with the team, especially since serving as team captain for Team Saint Lucia he won gold in Miami at the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) Taste of the Caribbean cooking competition in 2016.
“This was the first gold for Team Saint Lucia. Since then, I have been on the team for three years assisting and competing. This year is a little different though, as I am a judge for the SLHTA in the National Culinary Cook Off. I have been asked to judge two categories, in the beef and junior chef competitions.”
He hopes to continue working with and mentoring students, as in his words: “It is important to show them that no matter what, in good weather and in bad, they must never give up on their dreams.”