Thu | Feb 27, 2020

PAN contestant Dorette Campbell, cooking for love

Published:Thursday | September 5, 2019 | 12:19 AM

Dorrette Campbell is a St Catherine native with a natural aptitude for whipping up delicious meals in the kitchen; her talent fuelled by her passion for feeding those she loves, namely the children she has taken into her home as her own.

Though she prides herself on being a foster mother, one should not underestimate her abilities in the kitchen. Campbell placed second overall in the PAN 2019 Regional One competition, after all.

Held at Folly Oval, Portland, on Saturday, August 24, the competition saw over 35 chefs competing to head into finals. Campbell swooned both patrons and judges and secured the number two spot, beaten only by Denton Gordon out of St Ann. She also placed first in her home parish.

Her delicious seasonings, herbs and spices aside, her passion for children is something dear to her heart.

“Right now, there are three children living with me. No, they are not mine by blood, but I take care of them. One is currently attending Tacius Golding, that’s the 13-year-old. Another attends Garden Hill Primary, he’s 11 years old. The oldest is 18; she will finish HEART this year,” she said.

Campbell is driven to care for her children. A big part of that entails cooking them delicious meals, which at this point is something of a ritual for the regional champion.

“Everyone knows how much I love children. That in itself makes taking care of them easier. My relatives overseas will always bring stuff down to help me prepare meals for the kids because they know it is something I take pride in.”

Watching children enjoy her cooking is one of her biggest motivations to stay in the kitchen, without which she may never have entered PAN 2019, to begin with. Cooking for children is one of the ways in which she has developed her culinary skills over the years.

“I can’t tell you I’m a chef in the traditional sense. I never owned a restaurant or such. But I love cooking for the people I love. Whenever kids come over for the holidays and so on, I love watching them enjoy a good meal. Especially the little ones who have no other way of enjoying a good meal,” said Campbell.

While her biggest passion is parenting, Campbell has been a natural-born chef since a young age. She is so adept at the culinary arts that she has excelled in the PAN competition so far, having dabbled in jerk chicken for only five years.

She says she is nervous about finals but intends to do her best.

“When I heard the feedback from the judges on Saturday, for a time I thought that maybe I would not make it through,” she admitted. “But now that I am over that hurdle, I will be sure to address their concerns and come back bigger and better for grand finals; better texture, a more balanced sauce.”

So passionate is Dorrette Campbell about giving back to underprivileged youths that she plans on donating a portion of her winnings to Maxfield and Mustard Seed children’s homes in Kingston, should she be crowned winner at the grand finals.

She said, “I never had it easy growing up, you know. I had it kind of rough. Never had a father, so I was raised by my grandmother. So when I see kids not getting the attention they deserve ... I do what I can.”

Indeed, PAN 2019, hosted by CB Foods, is proud to be part of Dorrette’s journey to Live Better.