James Carberry, Lecturer in Culinary Arts

The Staff Canteen
James Carberry

James Carberry discusses his role as Lecturer in Culinary Arts at School of Culinary Arts and Food Technology at the Dublin Institute of Technology and his own inspirations with regards to pursuing a career as a Chef.

Name: James Carberry

Place of work: School of Culinary Arts and Food Technology at the Dublin Institute of Technology

Role: Lecturer in Culinary Arts

Bio: James won the Roux Scholarship in 1992 and has worked at the Dublin Institute of Technology for 14 years, teaching professional cookery both classical and contemporary to full time students from first years to forth year undergraduates. He is also the year tutor for the first year BSc Culinary Arts students and a consultant and catering expert to industry.

Chef Skills

James Carberry takes us through his personal experiences whilst being in the Culinary Industry. These key skills that young Chefs and industry professionals learn as part of their basic training.

How long have you been in this role? 

2001 to present.

What are your ultimate top five tips for someone looking to start a career in the hospitality sector?

  • Try to choose an area that interests you. Would you prefer to be a chef or do you see yourself front of house? If you are not sure that’s fine, get some experience in each area and then you can concentrate all your energy into the discipline you want to pursue.
  • Find out as much as you can about the industry and keep up to date with what is in vogue and who the key players are.
  • Only work with the best people and gain as much as you can from them, as believe me they will be working you hard, so be smart and use your time wisely. You need to get things right from the onset of your career in order to build up an impressive CV. Most top industry professionals have fantastic work experience and qualifications. They have worked with the best on their rise to critical acclaim.
  • Remember it’s all about people: be focused, courteous, friendly and accommodating. Having a constructive and enthusiastic demeanour will get you noticed and in hand will only give your superiors and peers a positive feeling about you.
  • Rome wasn’t built in a day, so don’t expect too much too soon. It takes a lot of correct practice to master a skill.

What are the main things that young chefs should be doing to build their CVs up? 

You are the master of your own destiny and only you can make the final decisions regarding your career in the future. For young chefs, your CV needs to be a professional document with a smart business look to it. You must keep the document concise and to the point. Please include all trade qualifications to date and all the establishments you have worked in even while on work experience. It is very important to make sure all spelling is correct, especially people’s names that you may have down as references.  This is a very common error in CVs and is totally a lack of attention to detail.

Remember potential employers read a lot of CVs so if there are too many pages in the document they will get bored or not have the time to read all its content. Keep it to the point with salient information. Highlight key skills you may have gained so far in your career. If you have extra information or photographs of your food and so on you can bring this to the interview, the chef interviewing you may like to you to expand on dishes you have cooked in the past (developing conversation) which could separate you from the pack.

Also, it’s no harm to enter competitions, of which there are many. Even if you don’t win you will learn on the journey and it looks good on the CV that you are trying hard.

What are some of the ways you would advise students to try to gain work experience?

If you live near a good establishment and are looking for some work experience go over and make yourself known to the owner or the chef. People are generally very approachable and will engage with you happily. Let them know you are interested in a career in hospitality and if you are a total novice work at weekends or evenings after school or college for a few hours for free. After a while, if they like you and you are making a good impression before long you will be getting paid and gaining experience at the same time. If you do not get into the first place you call on just move on and persevere until a door opens. You must be tenacious if you want something you have to go after it.

Any other tips from a lecturer’s perspective? 

People might say of “course he would say that”. But I think it’s very important to have

People might say of “course he would say that”. But I think it’s very important to have formal qualifications to fortify your career. So it does not matter if you are doing a simple introduction course to catering or more advanced studies, officially recognised courses are yours and once you get them you have them forever.

Also, we are all lifelong learners and no one knows all things. So remember to keep you skills up to date, even when you are a seasoned professional you can go back to education to further your career prospects.

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The Staff Canteen

Editor 25th May 2017

James Carberry, Lecturer in Culinary Arts