Ashley Reid wears two hats: she’s both a Chef and Barista at Nestlé Professional Jamaica – and every day, she gets to experience the best of both worlds.
Fundamentals in Food
Ashley’s professional background is rooted in food. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Food Service Management, majoring in Culinary Arts, from the University of Technology, Jamaica and is a certified Culinarian. After graduating, she worked both locally and internationally, in hotels, catering and restaurants, creating amazing food experiences for consumers.
“Working in hotels and catering gave me a great start for my career. The industry is ever-changing and evolving and I learned to be agile and adaptable. Most importantly, it taught me how to work with people from different cultures and backgrounds, from around the world” Ashley explains.
Ashley then joined Nestlé Professional as a chef where she led recipe development, new product evaluation, and collaborating with customers to create new menus.
She also executed the Young Culinary Talents Program (YOCUTA). YOCUTA is designed to train future generations in the culinary world and facilitate experiences to guarantee better job opportunities. Each year, Nestlé Professional Jamacia hosts a culinary competition which gives students an opportunity to showcase their culinary skills, while learning more about the food service industry.
“I really enjoyed working with the YOCUTA students,” Ashley explained, “they were so determined and creative in their work and it was very inspiring to hear about their goals. It was an honor to be able to work with them and help to develop their skills.”
Chef + barista = blurred lines
In less than two years, because of her quality of work and personal passion for coffee, she was offered the opportunity to become a certified barista. Now Ashley is one of the few Nestlé Professional employees who is both a chef and barista. She sees it as a unique advantage.
“I love the flexibility. Being both a barista and a chef, I get to blur a lot of the lines and be creative and experiment in food and beverages. It allows me to have a more wholistic and tailored conversation with potential clients, providing insights, and anticipating their needs. It allows Nestlé Professional to offer something really unique to our customers.”
“We stand strong together”
Throughout her career, Ashley has been inspired by Cat Cora – the first Iron Chef - for her ability to break barriers and set new standards for women in foodservice.
Ashley’s career has been exciting, but not without its own challenges: “I am a mere 5-foot tall (152 cm), so when I first started working in foodservice, some people thought that I couldn’t keep up with the men working the same job. It can be a very fast-paced environment, but I love a challenge. You know, women are here, and we’re here to make noise, so we stand strong together.”
She advises all young people not to be afraid to take risks. She says: “there’s no growth in your comfort zone. It’s OK to make mistakes, because you will learn from it – and you will move forward.”