JCDC celebrates 56 years of culinary evolution
Creating an institution that not only inspires ingenuity but encourages drive, vigour and passion is the sole aim of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC). In fact, they have created a legacy of developing some of Jamaica's finest artists over the last 55 years.
Through the hosting of island-wide competitions, the commission has unearthed raw talent hidden deep within crevices that span the length and breadth of the country. In honour of their 55th anniversary, the JCDC hosted their Culinary Arts Expo last Thursday, which transformed The Jamaica Pegasus' Grand Jamaican Suite into a time capsule which gave many the opportunity to experience old-time Jamaican cuisine, as well as modern twists to traditional dishes.
The Culinary Arts Expo engaged the senses as persons were able to see, taste, touch, smell and listen to the history and development of the island's famed cuisine. Each booth created a picturesque scene which depicted an entirely edible story handcrafted by the best chefs within the industry. Several noteworthy hotels that have been a part of the JCDC culinary arts journey showcased award-winning presentations, which left onlookers in awe as they gazed admiringly at the works of art. The piece that stood out the most was the replica of Jamaica's famous Devon House created by chef Lincoln Peterkin, which was sculpted entirely of white chocolate. Persons were able to see the inside of an old Jamaican kitchen, which was filled with delightful scents of herbs, spices and even jerk pork.
"The expo today is taking a retrospective look at our culinary arts. The great presence that Jamaican food has around the world is largely to be attributed to the drive and the belief over the years by Mr Seaga, Mr Nash and those who worked at the Jamaica Festival Commission," said Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia 'Babsy' Grange. Grange emphasised that Jamaican food was not meant to only satisfy local palates, but should also have international appeal. She commended the commission for searching every nook and cranny of the island and finding persons who have contributed to the evolution of Jamaican food.
The JCDC the Jamaican hotel industry and the Culinary Federation of Jamaica are to be commended for the growth of Jamaican cuisine. Several desserts, jellies, jams and legendary Jamaican recipes available today originated from entries obtained from the competitions over the years. JCDC also provided a series of workshops that provided guidelines on the pairing of herbs and spices, menu and dining etiquette, which paved the way for the advancement of many young chefs.
"Jamaica is not a nationality, it is an experience," said Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett. "The culinary attributes of Jamaica are the most defining means of which our identity is emphasised. To the world, Jamaica is the destination of food, music and love," continued Bartlett. The minister spoke about the establishment of monumental linkages between food and tourism and about how Jamaica is now seen as
the premier destination for gastronomy within the Caribbean. "The stars of tourism today are the chefs," he said.
The event highlighted several JCDC awardees who have made remarkable contributions to the commission and Jamaican cuisine over the years. The Most Honourable Edward Seaga commended the JCDC for being steadfast in its mission to facilitate the expansion of authentic Jamaican food made with local ingredients.
The 12-hour Culinary Arts Exposition was well received by all in attendance, which included culinary art students from the HEART Trust/NTA and the University of Technology. The event was a delightful bite into the history of Jamaican culture.