Each month we feature an International Chef of Chef Works®. If you’re a fan of Chef Works gear and are interested in being featured, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Pictured above is our October International CoCW, Daniel Schweizer, photographed in his Hartford Chef Coat.
If you need to find an adopted home, you could do a lot worse than Jamaica.
Since 1988, Chef Daniel Schweizer has called the Western Caribbean island home. And for 20 of those years he’s been with the Goddard Catering Group (aka GCG Jamaica) – currently serving as the executive chef at Sangster International Airport.
Hailing from Switzerland originally, Schweizer had plenty of culinary influences growing up.
“My uncle had a restaurant in Geneva, Switzerland, and as a youngster I went there for holidays,” recalled Schweizer, now 56. “I often went into the kitchen and saw the chefs cooking. It was there that I developed my passion for the kitchen. I think I was about 14 when I decided it was what I was going to do and my parents weren’t too happy. But they supported me all the way.
“I started a three-year apprentice program in Biel when I was 16. It was working for five days, one day of school and one day off. My parents were very supportive because I didn’t earn much money.”
Today he holds the titles of Certified Executive Chef and Certified Culinary Administrator from the American Culinary Federation, and a Worldschef Certification. As the Executive Chef at Sangster, he oversees a wide range of concepts. Fortunately, the region offers some unique flavors that appeal to tourists and locals alike.
“The flavors in Jamaica are unbelievable,” he said. “We have everything from a simple jerk to a wide range of lovely fruits. I always look around to find different flavor combinations and I’m always trying to incorporate them into my cooking.”
It was actually a friend who, in 1988, suggested Schweizer make the move from Switzerland to Jamaica. From there he held several executive chef positions at restaurants and hotels. He actually spent one year back in Switzerland before settling in Jamaica for good in the early 90s.
Despite his success, the most important lesson he’s taken with him through his years is to never stop learning.
“Dedication and perseverance helped get me to where I am today,” he said. “But you never know it all. I’m 56 and I’m still learning something new every day.”
Despite his culinary expertise, Schweizer doesn’t do much in the way of cooking for himself. He calls his tastes “unbelievably simple,” noting that he’s good to go with just a sandwich. But he loves experimenting with grilling and beer-soaked woods. He also admits that he’s not always the easiest-going guy. But once you get to know him, he breaks down his walls.
“After all, my wife has been married to me for 30 years,” he joked.
Meet the other International Chefs of Chef Works® for 2019:
- September: Rodrigo Miranda, Tasmania
- August: James Rogan, Aruba
- July: Ivana Setiawan, Indonesia
- June: Lauren Marshall, Canada
- May: Kay-Lene Tan, Australia
- April: Morgan Bellis, Canada
- March: Adrian Grazioli, Australia
- February: Romain Avril, Canada
- January: Morgan Clementson, Australia