Chef Christopher has been serving MRC The Crossings in our dining services department since the beginning of 2019. He is beloved by our residents and does an extraordinary job. His creativity and care for his work is clear in all he does, and he can always be found with a big smile. After hearing a bit of his unique background, we knew we needed to feature his story and how he came to serve at The Crossings. Enjoy reading about our wonderful Chef Christopher O. Ferguson.
Discovering a Love to Cook
I am a native of the beautiful Caribbean island of Jamaica, born in the cool parish of Saint Ann. My love for food was sparked at the age of ten when I was tasked with preparing meals for my diabetic grandmother. I was the sole provider, preparing breakfast and lunch for my grandmother before going to school and her dinner when I returned in the afternoon. It was while cooking for my grandmother that I quickly discovered how much I love to cook.
I attended high school in Jamaica where I studied Food and Beverage Management. After graduating, I attended the Grace Kitchen and Consumer Center in Kingston, Jamaica. To advance my passion in foods, I attended the International Culinary School where I obtained a culinary certificate.
Shining Star in the Kitchen
Part of my training required two internships, each lasting six months. However, at the end of my first internship, the Executive Chef of the hotel was so impressed with my professionalism and dedication to my work that he made me an offer as a new young graduate. He wanted to ensure he wouldn't lose a rising chef. In his very few words he said, “I'm not going to lose you to that other hotel." I could not help flashing a wide grin when he said he was offering me a job.
Right then and there my career as a chef began. It didn't take long for patrons to recognize me as a talented 20-year-old sous chef. While working one night, I was summoned to the dining area by a customer. The customer was Mr. Frankly Rans, owner of the FDR resort. He was so impressed with his meal that he wanted to meet the chef who prepared it. After an introduction and discussions of how I came up with the palatable shrimp scampi, I was again presented an offer that I could not refuse. The gentleman offered me a position at his hotel right away.
Honored to Prepare Meals
As my experience and talent grew, I had the honor to cook for the late Honorable Edward Sega, Prime Minister of Jamaica. I remember saying, "The Prime Minister of Jamaica ate my food and he loved it," while unsuccessfully attempting to suppress a big smile.
The offer of a lifetime then came when I was selected and I accepted a position with the Navy Exchange Service Command (NEX), U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay when the recruitment manager visited Jamaica. That began a successful 22 year career serving in the capacity of Cook Supervisor. We served thousands of Military personnel of all branches of service, DOD families, contractors, and a large Foreign Nationals workforce. U.S. Naval Hospital Guantanamo Bay embraces providing world-class care by maintaining a reputation for sustaining one of the highest patient satisfaction rates of any military treatment facility in the Navy. The patient population of approximately 5,500 includes military family members, government civilian employees and their families, special category residents, contractors, foreign nationals and migrants.
Dreaming of cooking in the USA
However, as a young boy, it was always my aspiration to one day go to the Land of the Brave, the United States of America. In June 2018, that dream was realized. When I arrived in the United States, my first job was at a Senior Living Community as a cook. I could not wait to display my culinary skills to the best of my ability. The residents were so elated with my food decorating skills. During my first teaching class on setting up the buffet line, the residents did not even want to touch it because of how beautiful it looked. They said, “Chef Chris we have never seen anything like this before at this location!” I had to then give them the go ahead to go through the line as I said smiling, “It’s all yours.”
The Perfect Partnership between Chef and Community
In February 2019, I joined The Crossings as the Executive Sous Chef. The first big event handed to me was a wine social. The event was a huge success. When all of the guests arrived, I started to make everlasting impressions, and some great personal and business relationships. Now, we’re one big happy family here at The Crossings. If for any reason residents don’t see me for a day, they want to know ‘what happened to their chef!’ Others personally want to know if I am ok. It is my opinion that it is a true love they have for me. The residents are so kind and complimentary and take pride in calling me ‘their chef.’ Serving residents at The Crossings has been a dream come true. I have never executed an event where my residents were dissatisfied.
When asked how I was able to master the art of cooking at such a young age, I do not hesitate to answer. "You cannot prepare a proper meal without love in your heart. I love food, I love people, I love what I do and I love to see people enjoy the meals I prepare."
Though this is a biography, I want to mention my biggest supporter and spouse for the past 18 years who has provided my biggest support in my career by opening up her heart to my dreams and aspirations, as I’ve created a platform to display my cooking skills.
-Chef Christopher O. Ferguson