2016 Taste of Ja­maica win­ner crowned

Jamaica Gleaner - - FOOD - Okoye Henry Gleaner Writer

PORT­LAND CHEF Ri­cardo Allen was crowned 2016 Chef of the Year at the 6th stag­ing of the HEART Trust/NTA Taste Of Ja­maica Culi­nary Com­pe­ti­tion & Expo.

Held at the Mon­tego Bay Con­ven­tion Cen­tre in St James on Novem­ber 12 and 13, the Tri­dent Ho­tel chef bested the com­pe­ti­tion ahead of first run­nerup David Welling­ton from the Court­yard by Mar­riott Ho­tel and se­cond run­ner-up Michael Thomas of The Ja­maica Pe­ga­sus — to walk away with the cov­eted ti­tle, tro­phy and US$3,000 in schol­ar­ship from HEART Trust/NTA among other prizes.

His win­ning dish was a fu­sion of dasheen with fry plan­tain and tuna mar­i­nated in var­i­ous sauces. This was com­ple­mented by a side of chicken stuffed with shrimp and salmon, fin­ished off with sor­rel sauce. “I am feel­ing great that my hard work paid off,” said Allen. A chef for nine years, this was his first time en­ter­ing the chef of the year cat­e­gory in the an­nual com­pe­ti­tion. “My next step is mov­ing on to higher heights as well as fur­ther­ing my ed­u­ca­tion,” Allen shared with Food.

The 2016 stag­ing of the two­day expo, or­gan­ised by Culi­nary Fed­er­a­tion of Ja­maica (CFJ), fea­tured cook-offs in more than 18 cat­e­gories.

These cat­e­gories in­cluded: Pas­try Ju­nior Chef of the Year where Brit­tany Thomp­son of HEART Col­lege of Hos­pi­tal­ity Ser­vices won first place and The win­ning dish from the Chef of the Year cook-off.

$30,000; Ju­nior Chef of the Year — won by Oshane Pow­ell of He­do­nism II; and An­chor Cream Cheese Com­pe­ti­tion, won by Amelia Baker-Buc­cas of The Ja­maica Pe­ga­sus ho­tel.

“This event is very im­por­tant to our young peo­ple who are go­ing to seek a ca­reer in food, par­tic­u­larly bev­er­age and hos­pi­tal­ity,” noted CFJ Pres­i­dent Den­nis McIn­tosh.

He en­cour­aged young culi­nary pro­fes­sion­als at the com­pe­ti­tion to seize the op­por­tu­ni­ties that the event of­fers. “There is tremen­dous mar­ket out there for highly skilled young pro­fes­sion­als as most of you have a great op­por­tu­nity to be almost any­where in the world once you have the right skill set and at­ti­tude,” McIn­tosh ex­plained. His sen­ti­ments were echoed by the

HEART Ri­cardo Allen of the Tri­dent Ho­tel in Port­land, busy pre­par­ing his win­ning dish.

Trust’s Collin Virgo, who charged par­tic­i­pants to ap­pre­ci­ate not just the com­pe­ti­tion, but also CFJ and its mis­sion to de­velop Caribbean cui­sine as an im­por­tant part of the tourism prod­uct in Ja­maica and through­out the re­gion. Den­nis McIn­tosh (left), pres­i­dent of the Culi­nary Fed­er­a­tion of Ja­maica, pre­sent­ing first-place prizes to Tri­dent Ho­tel chef, Ri­cardo Allen, who won the cov­eted ‘2016 Chef of the Year’ ti­tle.

PHO­TOS BY OKOYE HENRY

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