Beauty queen crowned top chef
Reigning Miss Jamaica Universe, Kaci Fennell, copped another crown last weekend when she competed at the 2014 CB Pan Chicken Championship on the Kingston waterfront. Added to her résumé of accomplishments is the 2014 CB Pan Chicken Celebrity Chef.
Dressed in a long-sleeved grey romper with wedge heels, perfect make-up, complete with her title sash, you would not have thought she was ready to throw-down and grill on the pan. When Fennell arrived, Team Intense hosts Ashley Miller and Talia Soares, from the popular entertainment show, were already waiting and ready for the showdown.
At 3:45 p.m., the pans were lit for the hourlong competition. Bustling on stage, the teams put their plans into action, making sauces, turning chicken intermittently and fanning flames, while emcee Pretty Boy Floyd gave entertaining commentary. "It's getting 'Intense'," Floyd joked as he announced 10 minutes to presentation.
And indeed it was. Both teams seemed flustered as they sought to get everything finished, but the high wind on the waterfront was giving them some difficulty. "The chicken better cook," Fennell joked, when asked how she was doing. Then seemingly to reassure herself she added, "I'm feeling good. My chicken is the baddest thing, I'm going to win this." She laughed and walked back to the pan to continue fanning, before turning the chicken, setting foil over it and closing her pan for it to finish.
Across the stage, Team Intense did not appear as confident. "The fire too low so the chicken nah cook. All we have left to do is chop up and put the chicken in the foil. We made the sauce already," Miller said in-between frantically fanning the flames. "Boy, the chef that she has kinda intimidating, but me nah watch dat," she added.
After about 20 minutes bonus time, the teams were ready for the judges. Adding a new element to the competition this year, it was National Bakery brand manager, Terrence Slater - along with Simone Williams and Jason Mitchell - random attendees, who selected the winners.
Mango salad edge
Returning a 2-1 verdict within minutes, Team Kaci's special jerked chicken with mango pepper sauce and spicy Grace hot tomato ketchup and jerked plantain had won. The judges said Team Intense had prepared very juicy chicken with a real island flavour, but Team Kaci's creative mango salad gave them the edge.
This, Team Kaci said, happened by chance. "I had mango in the back of the car, and plantain. So we said just use it in the competition and go with it," Chef Ricardo said. "We had two sauces. The mango sauce, we brought the mango and just used the ingredients we had when we came. The competition was amazing," Fennell joined.
Both teams won cash prizes for charities of their choice - Style for Change and Wortley's Children's Home - along with gift baskets from National Bakery, Grace Tomato Ketchup and other sponsors.
"It was really fun. Congrats to Kaci, she really brought her A-game," Ashley Miller said, as the team collected their prizes. "I now have a real appreciation for pan chicken men. You know sometimes after a party you hungry and you complain how the chicken take so long? It really takes a while to cook and soak," Talia Soares said laughing.
As they left the stage, Pretty Boy Floyd gave his final comment. "Uno chicken really intense. A just de mango slap uni fi six."
The exciting event marked the end of the CB Pan Chicken Championship's ninth season - an annual competition in search of Jamaica's most talented pan chicken chef. This title was taken by Hanover native Sitrena Gilling, who walked away with more than $500,000 in cash plus gifts and products.
Completely taking over Ocean Boulevard, CB proved for the second straight year why it has been dubbed Jamaica's largest food festival. Offering numerous activities for children, tons of giveaways, a Celebrity Chef competition and live performances from top recording artistes, all free of cost, the event continues to draw thousands of Jamaicans for a fun-filled day.