Manchester Pan Champ Dianca Spencer closer to her dream
Hailing from Swaby's Hope, Spur Tree in Manchester, the journey for young Dianca Spencer has not been an easy one.
But her luck has shifted since being named winner for the parish of Manchester at the recently held Regional One of CB Foods' PAN 2016 competition.
Tears of joy streamed down Spencer's face as the announcement was made; her determination and dreams of becoming a sous chef are now one step closer to coming true.
Regional One of PAN 2016, formerly known as CB Pan Chicken Championships, saw 28 competitors vying for pan chicken supremacy and the coveted title of Grand Champion. The culinary extravaganza comprised a live 60-minute cook-off, judged by popular chefs from the Culinary Federation of Jamaica.
"It was my first time entering and I really wanted to get the experience on how to prepare food the right way, so I can go out there and show others how it is done," a proud Spence told Flair.
She told Flair her story: "I grew up without a father, so it was me and my mother. But God is so good. During all the struggles that I have been through, I always push to try and make it. I always try to put my best out there at all times regardless of the circumstances."
After completing studies at Porus High School in Manchester, Spencer began working in a restaurant. She fell ill and threw in the towel after only two weeks. She did odd jobs to support herself, and earlier this year completed a three-month course at Distinction College in St Elizabeth, where she studied food preparation.
"I feel really happy to have won for my parish. To be honest, I didn't know I could do it. I just want to say that CB is doing a good thing for small entrepreneurs. I can now go out there and express myself to people," Spencer shared.
Spencer is no stranger to PAN. Her cousin Martin Tomlinson and aunt Elaine Mighty are also past winners for Manchester, and it was her cousin who actually encouraged her to enter.
What's Spencer's winning formula?
"My chicken was well seasoned and I had to ensure that the sauce was right. It has to be a complete product from start to finish."
She added, "I have an interest in food, and I do a lot of research because that's how I am able to express myself. I always put my best out there."
Continental Baking Company, through its brand National, is a 'Drum Pan' partner of this year's staging. The company endorses the efforts of small entrepreneurs such as Spencer.
"Continental Baking Company is proud to be a sponsor of PAN 2016. Now in its 11th staging, this is also staging of an event that showcases the best of our Pan/jerked chicken entrepreneurs. Jerk, of course, would not be the same without National Hardo Bread, so it has been a perfect partnership," says Janelle Brown, marketing manager.
Returning partner JN Small Business continues to offer PAN participants a business grant as part of the prize package to the grand champion, as well as the second- and third-place winners.
"JN Small Business Loans believes that entrepreneurship is an important vehicle through which Jamaica can reach its potential of achieving sustained economic growth," states Gillian Hyde, general manager for JN Small Business Loans.
She continued, "We are also pleased that more young persons are choosing entrepreneurship as a viable career option, and this can only spell well for us as a country because small businesses drive economies. We remain committed to this sector, which is why we continue to assist micro entrepreneurs in realising their dreams of being successful business persons. We commend Spencer on her win and wish her all the best at the finals."
Spencer is now in full preparation mode to take home the title of Grand Champion. "I want to become the best sous chef in the Caribbean, and this is just the start for me," she revealed.