Pan champions - The people behind the stories
Regional 1 of PAN 2017, held recently at Independence Park in Black River, St Elizabeth, saw contestants battling it out for a chance to compete in PAN 2017 finals in Half-Way Tree on October 29 for the ultimate prize.
Until the next regional on September 30, each week, Food introduces you to the extraordinary Jamaicans who have already secured a spot in the grand finals.
Second time's the charm for Donald Smith
Since he was a child, Donald Smith, who is a resident of Georgia district in Hanover, has had the nickname 'Foodie'. It came as no surprise when he finished in second place for his parish at PAN 2017 Regional 1.
"I come from a large family - 13 of us, including my parents. My mother always left me in charge to prepare food at home, but the hardest task was preparing Sunday dinner. I grew with that love and passion for food," Smith explained.
Having worked as a caterer for a short period, Smith decided to venture into the pan chicken business. "I have been preparing jerk chicken in the town of Lucea for the past seven years. Business has had its ups and downs, but it usually picks up on the weekends," the father of two shared.
This was his second time entering the PAN competition. His aim was to showcase his talent, as well as to gain exposure and experience. "The experience has been good and it gave me a lot of exposure. People have been telling me that they've seen me on television and in the newspaper, and that has really helped to establish my business," said Smith.
For the finals that comes up on October 29 in Half-Way- Tree, Kingston, he says, "I always come up with creative ideas, because cooking is all about being creative. Every day I try something different, so I am focusing on preparation. I'm going all out for the finals because I really want to win. I am hungry for it."
Dezrine Smith is grateful to showcase her talent
Dezrine Smith was preparing pan chicken at a church function a few months ago, when she was approached to enter the PAN 2017 competition.
"I was there looking after some chicken when a lady asked me if I wanted to enter the PAN competition and I said 'yes'. She contacted me a few days later and gave me the entry form. So that's how I entered." Smith recalled.
Smith was the first runner-up for the parish of St James in the PAN 2017 Regional 1 competition.
"It was a great experience for me. I appreciate what CB is doing to allow us to show off our talent," Smith expressed.
She spoke of how the competition has enhanced her skills. "
I learnt how to make a better sauce, and I also learnt how to prepare food carefully. The competition taught me a lot."
Smith's interest in food came by accident.
"I use to work with a woman who run a bar and she taught me how to jerk chicken. This was about 2005, and I found it very interesting and continued unto this day," the 38-year-old mother of two explained.
Smith, who prepares pan chicken at various locations in Montego Bay, said the recipe to her chicken is all about the wisdom that she receives from God.
"God gives me the wisdom, so all that wisdom is in the recipe. When you put God first, things always work out," she revealed.