THEY SAY there is no love more sincere than the love of food, and last Sunday, scores of families and friends gathered on the grounds of Folly Ruins in Portland to share in their love of all things jerked at the annual Portland Jerk Festival.
The fun day started out as a sweet escape for many - clear skies, a kiddies' corner, prizes and surprises, all surrounding sizzling and scrumptious offerings for all to savour. Boston jerkers engaged appetites with their authentic spin on delectable jerked chicken, pork, lamb, fish, lobster, rabbit and conch. According to Donna Duncan, head chef of the Boston jerkers, the response had been overwhelming, until things took a turn for the worse when they realised that they were running out of food. People became restless as the long lines grew even longer as hungry patrons waited.
And what would a jerk festival be without a best jerky compeition? Best Dressed Chicken held their annual competition and, this time around, they had six contestants, all Boston jerkers, vying for Di Favourite Jerky 2015. Best Dressed Chicken provided the products and the chefs got to preparing with their secret ingredients. From there, they were judged on presentation and taste, taking into consideration hygiene. Adam Palmer emerged as the winner and was presented with a trophy, $25,000, a fully equipped, self-contained jerk drum, along with a case of Best Dressed Chicken. According to Nikolette Williams, brand and promotions officer, The Best Dressed Chicken, the chefs are the ones who purchase from them and showcase their products, so this was their way of giving back and rewarding them for all their hard work and dedication to jerk.
On the gourmet side of the fest, local chefs Lorraine Fung and American-based Gari Ferguson excited palates with their unique twist on jerk pork and chicken. But the highlight of the day came from celebrity chef Judson Todd Allen. The architect of flavour shared with the masses a menu comprising seafood jerked macaroni and cheese, jerked corn soup, and Korean jerked barbecue chicken with a mango slaw. He told Food he was very happy to be in Jamaica, and that the Jamaican people have just been wonderful, so he was happy to bring a little bit of Chicago and fuse it with Jamaican flavour.
As the sun began to set, and most stomachs were full, entertainment took over and the curtains came down on another successful staging of Portland Jerk Festival.