Sun | Sep 23, 2018

Pan champions-The people behind the stories

Published:Thursday | October 26, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Lance Fairweather
Karisa Wright
Carole Maxwell
Donald Williams (left) second place winner for parish of Trelawny, receives his symbolic cheque from Kemoi Burke, Events and Promotions Coordinator, CB Foods.

The final Regional for PAN 2017 took place at the Folly Oval in Portland recently, and 14 lucky pan vendors were put through to the grand finals that takes place in Half-Way Tree this Sunday at the Half-Way-Tree Transport Centre.

This week, we take a look at the final set of lucky winners who have a shot at the ultimate prize PAN CHAMPION!

Kerisa Wright hopes to secure the win for St Thomas

In 2006, Kerisa Wright's cousin Dorritte Brown, was crowned PAN Champion. Since then, the championship title has escaped St Thomas. Kerisa Wright wants to change that.

"My cousin won it many years ago and she encouraged me to enter this year. My ex-boss also pushed me to enter, so I decided to give it a try," Wright shared.

The 27-year-old resident of White Horses, was the second place winner for her parish at last month's PAN 2017 Regional 2 in Portland.

"The experience was good apart from the rain that fell. I really learnt a lot from this competition. I saw a lot of new things that I want to try out as well," said Wright.

Using special herbs and natural spices, Wright said the secret in her recipe was ensuring that her chicken tasted good.

"Whatever I do, I always try to ensure that it tastes good and that the chicken is juicy and tender."

Wright's experience in food began at an early age. "I've been cooking since I was around 10 years old. My mother and grandmother were always cooking, and I was there helping them out in the kitchen. For five years I worked in the canteen at Sankofa Preparatory in Albion, and then I opened a restaurant which lasted for about a year because I had to close it down," Wright shared.

Today, Wright prepares pan chicken on the main road in White Horses on weekends and holidays. She also does events, weddings and funerals in and around the area.

Wright said if she was named PAN Champion, the prize from JNBS would come in handy in re-establishing a restaurant where she can ply her trade.

"I want to build a shop and invest the money in the business and expand. So hopefully that can become a reality if I win."

Carole Maxwell owes her success to God

When she was announced as the first-place winner for the parish of Portland, Carole Maxwell could hardly contain her emotions.

Maxwell threw her hands in the air, then covered her face and knelt down, whispering a prayer.

"A lot was going through my mind. I was saying to myself, that is God do it. I just couldn't believe I won because I entered last year, and I was disappointed that I didn't win anything. I owe this all to God," said Maxwell.

It has been a rough journey for the mother of five. She entered the PAN 2017 competition to showcase her culinary skills, and hopefully win one of the major prizes at this Sunday's grand final scheduled for the Half-Way-Tree Transport Centre.

"I have a daughter in college and two sons who are in high school. I want to finish a house that I started, so the prize money would really come in handy," shared Maxwell.

The petite woman from All Spice Grove in Fairy Hill, was introduced to food during high school. She later expanded on her craft when she did a culinary course at a catering school.

And how is she preparing for the grand final?

"I'm going to be using better techniques and seasoning. I am also going to pay more attention to the presentation as well," she shared.

Lance Fairweather - From Masonry to Pan chicken vendor

Lance Fairweather has a plan, and it goes his way at this weekend's grand final of PAN 2017, he could become the owner of a restaurant.

"I really entered because I want to open a restaurant because right now I am doing jerk chicken on the streets of Port Maria," said Fairweather.

The 45-year-old who finished in first place for the parish of St Mary, is from a community called Pagee in Port Maria. He told Food, "I use to do mason work, but I stopped doing that and I have been doing jerk chicken for the past five years'," he shared. Fairweather also caters at events in and around his community.

"The experience has been rewarding for me because since I won for St Mary my business has increased. Right now, I have five events to do in November," shared Fairweather.

Donald Williams wants to open a Restaurant

Like most of his competitors, Donald Williams has plans to open a restaurant should he be one of the winners at the grand final of PAN 2017 this weekend.

"That's one of the main reasons why I entered the competition. I want to use the funds to open a restaurant for myself and to provide employment for others," Williams shared.

Williams finishing in second place for the parish of Trelawny at PAN 2017 Regional 2 in Portland and is ready for the finals. "I plan to put more effort into the chicken and to make an impact. This time I am going to bring it so people, look out for me," he stated confidently.

Williams gained experience in food having worked at several restaurants over the years.

"About 15 years ago I was encouraged to get into the jerk chicken business, and it has been good so far. But I can tell you this, from I came second in the competition, a lot more persons are now contacting me to do functions. So that's really something positive," he shared.

This was the second time that Williams was entering the competition. He competed last year but failed to make it among the top two for his parish.

"I think my chances to win are looking much better this time around," states the 36 year old resident of Wakefield, Trelawny.