Sibaya Casino and Entertainment Kingdom’s Aqua Restaurant is home to Chef Kervin Barnes, who took an inspiring journey from steward to sushi chef. “Sushi is a creative culinary art that chefs spend hours perfecting. It is also an acquired taste and through my work I hope to encourage more people to try it and appreciate it,” he says.

Kervin joined the Aqua Restaurant in 2009 and so enjoyed watching and learning from the chefs in the kitchen that he jumped at the opportunity to learn new skills in 2012. He applied for a commis chef position and, on his days off, he spent time with the restaurant’s sushi chefs. The hours he spent learning from them paid off and in 2013 he was appointed a sushi chef.

During the seven years that he has been at Sibaya, he has enjoyed the privilege of being mentored by its chefs and the freedom to be creative and develop his skills. 32 year old Barnes, who hails from Richard Bay but now lives in Phoenix, is currently attending the International Hotel School for National Professional Cookery.

There have been many highs and lows during his journey. His most embarrassing moment, he recalls, was while preparing prawns and prawn water squirted into his eyes.

“My eyes became so swollen, they were almost sealed closed and everyone laughed. At the time I didn’t know that I was allergic to prawns.”

He lists his mom as his main mentor and inspiration, while he considers his dad, with his strong character and leadership skills, as his role model.

“My mom is my mentor. She is very religious and has instilled good values in me during my upbringing.”

Though sushi is his passion, his favourite food is Italian and he also appreciates a hearty plate of lamb chops, mash and mushrooms. During his downtime, he goes to gym and enjoys watching sport and socializing with friends.

His advice to those wanting to pursue a career in the culinary field is; “Never be afraid to take a chance. Always take the time to observe. Dedication, patience and action will get you to where you want to be.”