Interior designer Verdeline Barr of St Andrew outdid five other contestants to win the Maggi Cook-off competition at the St James Rural Agricultural Development Authority's Farmers' Market in Montego Bay, recently. The Lawrence Tavern native's soup concoction of soup made from red peas, raw peanuts and chicken, impressed the three judges, making her $25,000 richer and heading back to the east with the cooking champion title under her belt.
In photo: Cook-off winner Verdeline Barr.-Claudia Gardner.
"This is a dish I prepare for my family every Saturday using Maggi coconut milk, cock soup and seasoning cubes," she told Food. She added, "The peanuts give the dish added nutrition and a great flavour. I have never cooked in an outdoor environment, and at first it was tricky, but as people were passing and commenting about the aroma, I got more confident. I was pleased people kept coming back for a taste, and [it] confirmed that I had prepared a good dish."
Barr said she entered the cook-off because she is an avid fan of Maggi products which she uses daily to cook dishes such as seasoned rice, soups and various meats.
In photo: The winning pot of soup by Verdeline Barr. -Claudia Gardner.
Consumer marketing manager of NestlÈ Jamaica, Wendy Robertson said the purpose of the competition was to promote the drinking of soup, which she said is a cost-effective dish, and the use of Maggi's soup mixes in multiple ways.
"What we are trying to do this year is to encourage additional uses for our soup mixes. So you don't only have to use it to make a soup; you can use it in your rice, to make gravy, you can use it to do steamed vegetables. What I asked — and some of them are doing it — is to prepare non-soup dishes, using soup mixes," Robertson said.
"A lot of people don't bother to cook soup at home, and there is a perception out there that soup takes long to cook and that it is expensive. "But neither of those are true; you don't have to spend the whole day cooking a pot of soup. You can get a good, healthy, nutritious soup in under an hour. For that reason, most people cook soup on a Saturday. It is not more expensive than cooking a pot of rice and chicken and vegetables, which is really more expensive," she added.
In photo: Creamy coconut and ground provision casserole, stuffed with chicken breast in coconut sauce, by Cordel Samuels.
The other contestants in the competition were Veproy Smith of Montego Bay; Cordel Samuels of Somerton in St James; Ramona Tobias and Delissa Henry of Kingston, and Diana Gordon of Mandeville.