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Award-winner goes from kitchen help to top chef

SUCCESS: Ricardo ‘Ricky’ Campbell

A JAMAICAN-BORN chef who started his catering career washing dishes has won a national award for his creative cooking skills.

Ricardo ‘Ricky’ Campbell, who works for catering service Brookwood which provides delicious meals for some of Britain’s top private schools, received top place for his outstanding performance in coming up with new recipes after coming second last year.

He is currently based at Dunottar School, in Reigate, Surrey, and is “a valued asset to the school”, according to catering manager Jackie Denyer.

She added: “He will do more than asked and is always happy, singing and smiling.”

Campbell said: “I was really happy to win this, as I was a runner-up last year.  I’ve been working so hard, and now I want to work harder.”

The popular cook said he had always dreamed of becoming a chef and was pushed by his grandmother and father who encouraged him to get a job in Jamaica’s vibrant hotel industry.

He said: “It was not easy at first. I started as a porter where all I did was wash the dishes and pots. I then moved to another level in the kitchen and from there I became a real chef, a proper chef.”

Campbell joined Brookwood after relocating to London but instead of living his passion, he was put on salad duty for a whole year. He added: “My manager noticed my work ethic and how I managed the knife. She said, ‘Ricardo, we have to give you the chef’s position’. When I won the award she told me I deserved it as I had worked so hard, with such dedication.

“The beauty of it for me is that as long as I exist on this earth and that school is running, they have the award with a picture of me inside a big book, so everyone who registers in that school will always see that.”

Campbell is currently penning a Caribbean cookbook with a traditional English twist and is also the star of his own YouTube channel in which he gives tips to amateur chefs.

“I hope people will learn something when they watch my show as well as understand that hard work really does pay off,” he added.

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