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Love, Food and the Love of Food - ‘The Bachelor Chef’ Speaks
Once upon a time, men didn’t cook. And of course, that is pure fiction. As the stereotype of the non-cooking man (of course looking for a worthwhile damsel to cook a path to his heart) gets tossed out like yesterday’s peelings more and more men are embracing their inner chef. Shea Stewart, now known as ‘The Bachelor Chef’ is one of those, but while he began is dalliance with food as a hobby, he now pursues his love on a professional basis.
“Cooking comes naturally on my mother’s side of the family,” he says, explaining that both his mother and grandfather are good cooks. However, growing up he had no designs on being a chef. The son of veteran producer Stephen Stewart even attempted to follow in his father’s footsteps. However, it was the cutting board not the mixing board that would win out. He explains that while he was unable to find employment his mother suggested he attend Heart-NTA for chef training, and since then there was no turning back.
“I think I was put on this earth to be a chef,” Shea says. “It just came very easy to me. It was the first thing in life I’ve ever excelled at.” But though it all seems to come so easily he wants to ensure that he makes the most of it. “I don’t want to take my talent for granted so I try to put it to use,” he explains.
So four years ago, Elite Kreations, his catering company was born. At present, Elite Kreations’ catering gigs include weddings, corporate events and all-inclusive parties but Shea hopes to eventually upgrade the company to a full-scale event planning outfit.
So in food, Shea has found not just something he’s good at, but something he can use to build his future, and that further inspires his commitment to cooking. Late last year he teamed up with long time friend and filmmaker Kyle Chin to create The Bachelor Chef Vlog. The Bachelor Chef is directed by Chin and produced by Afroasian Productions. Through the vlog, Shea gets to further explore his journey through food, and Kyle gets to eat the results.
“My love for food comes from, I guess, being able to do something that makes those that love me proud,” he says. Together two want to create a cooking show equivalent to anything that could be found on the cooking channel. And it seems Jamaica may have come of age for such a show.
Shea believes that Jamaica is going through a culinary revolution as witnessed by more and more chefs getting increased real estate on precious social pages of the media. Of course this is also aided by the rising food related events that are popping up throughout the year. Chief among them is the upcoming Restaurant Week. Indeed, Shea has also begun his own food event with the Bachelor Chef Cookouts. The Cookout, slated for end October was delayed due to Hurricane Sandy.
Shea confesses to have a wandering palate and so his loves are many. “I like French, Italian and Jamaican cuisine,” he says. But he also notes that his interest varies and he enjoys diving into one type of cuisine and then trying out another.
When asked about his love life, Shea balks at revealing any details. He does admit however that love has generally been kind to him, and says he’s never had his heart broken. “Whether it’s been a good experience or a bad experience, it’s been a learning experience,” he says being decidedly vague.
And though he’s reticent about talking about his love connections, he doesn’t hold back when talking about cooking. He explains that for him, cooking is a medium for self-expression.
“Food is an art form. The same way someone would paint to tell someone someone how they feel, is the way that I cook,” he says. And the emotional connection runs deep. “Food has been a healing factor for me when I’m down or sad,” he says. But it’s healing powers don’t come from eating it.
“I don’t eat food to comfort me. I would more cook it,” he explains. And at the end of the day, it comes down to one simple thing. “Me and food have a connection,” he says. “It kina talk to me.”