Chef Brian Lumley: Feeding a Passion

Words by Lisa Collins-Haynes

Brian Lumley, aka Chef Extraordinaire as many have called him in the past, is circumventing around a culinary pinnacle. At the ripened age of 26, Chef Lumley has carved out his signature style and been recognized locally and internationally for his gourmet cuisine. He was most recently crowned Chef of the Year for the second time at the Taste of the Caribbean competition. With a mountain of crushed competitors behind him, clearly Lumley is focused on superseding and surpassing each goal he puts his mind to.

His driven spirit and love of food was the driving force behind his career, which started from a very early age. He says his passion for cooking literally came from hunger. Being the middle child, he quickly realized that by helping his mother in the kitchen, he’d be able to be the “taste-tester” and ultimately get a little more servings than his siblings. As time marched on, his skills were sharpened and he began preparing sub sandwiches and other meals for his siblings when their mother was working late. When his mother opened a local restaurant in Kingston, it was Brian who stepped up to help out in the kitchen again. As a teen, he attended an all-boys school and although most of the other children teased him for wanting to be a chef, he didn’t let that deter his dreams and goals.

Chef Brian Lumley Photo Courtesy of Jik.

Fast forward to a growing list of achievements and awards for excellence in gourmet cuisine and many know now that Chef Lumley made the right decision in following a culinary career path. It all began at the Runaway Bay HEART Academy, where he graduated at Level II of the joint Culinary Institute of America program, becoming a certified Chef de Cuisine. After working his way through the ranks at a number of hotels, in 2008 Chef Lumley was commissioned by the Embassy of France to fill the position of Personal Chef to the French Ambassador. It’s been a steady progression of upward mobility since then; competing and being sought after to cater some of the islands’ most prestigious special events.

When Lumley is not doing his labor of love, he’s spreading the love of cooking to the youth. Together with his sister, Budding Chefs was opened in the summer of 2012. It’s a culinary workshop open to children aged four to twelve years old. Lumley’s platform is to be a changing force in the fight against childhood obesity and teaching healthy eating choices from the start. Besides the typical cooking lessons and following recipes, one significant aspect of the camp is that the children are taken on a grocery store field trip to learn how to select proper foods. Lumley says, “Our goal is to create a lifestyle change –starting with children.” The children learn a variety of cooking techniques and are exposed to foods with different textures, tastes, and colors they may not be used to. The children are encouraged to try different ingredients because it gives them an experience and opportunity to explore and find a new type of food they like.

Children being served food at the Budding Chefs retreat.

Chef Lumley serves food to students at the Budding Chefs workshop.

What’s next for Chef Lumley, how about restaurateur?  That’s right, as if he doesn’t have his hands in enough cookie jars; he recently launched the grand opening of 689 by Brian Lumley, a restaurant focused on contemporary gourmet Caribbean cuisine. Receiving rave reviews, 689 is gaining notoriety in New Kingston’s social scene. The numbers 6, 8, 9 all have significant meaning, representing attributes such as selflessness, grace, stability, karma, personal power and leading by example. Any new restaurant worth its weight in gold of course has a main attraction signature dish. 689 by Brian Lumley introduces a Caribbean twist on Lobster Spaghettini as his leading lady. It’s a succulent, mouth-watering entrée that won’t soon be forgotten by your taste buds.

While 689 is undoubtedly keeping Lumley extremely busy, rest assured he’s already working hard planning his next project and this certainly won’t be the last we hear or taste of Chef Lumley. 689 can be located at 20-22 Trinidad Terrace in Kingston, Jamaica. Reservations are accepted and recommended. Hours may vary. Please visit 689 Restaurant Facebook page for more information.