Manchester PAN champ wants own restaurant
Like most pan chicken entrepreneurs, 23-year-old Oral Blake's biggest dream is to own a restaurant.
Blake, who is from Mayday district in Manchester, was employed in a restaurant, where he acquired the requisite skills to prepare pan chicken.
"I got involved in preparing pan chicken just by asking someone for a job. My mother sold a pig to a gentleman who had a restaurant, and I asked him if he wanted any workers. After hesitating, he said yes and that was how I got involved in food," Blake shared.
The gentleman that Blake referred to is former PAN parish winner Martin Tomlinson, who owns the FB PAN Chicken & Grill Restaurant, located at Manchester Avenue.
ENTERING THE COMPETITION
"I learnt on the job how to prepare pan chicken, and it was an experience that I cherish. He was the one who encouraged me to enter PAN 2018," said Blake.
Having heard about the PAN 2018 competition, Blake decided to enter.
"I always heard about the competition, but I didn't think of entering. People were always telling me that my chicken tasted good, so I should enter. I know I have the ability to do well, so I decided to try it," Blake added.
Blake emerged as the first-place winner for the parish of Manchester at the just-concluded PAN 2018 Regional 2, hosted by CB Foods. The competition took place at Independence Park, Black River in St Elizabeth.
"Entering the competition, I learnt to do things differently. It was quite motivating, and to be honest, the experience was a good one. Preparing your pan chicken using natural herbs and spices is the best recipe to a great-tasting chicken, and that's what stood out most for me," Blake said.
Now that he has advanced to the grand final of PAN 2018, which takes place on Sunday, October 28, at the National Stadium car park, Blake says he is paying special attention to the taste of his chicken, as he believes it will help him in scoring big on the judges' scoresheets.
"I am doing research each day and practising. I want the chicken to be moist, and for the finished product to be the best-tasting chicken that day," said Blake.
The first-place winner of the PAN 2018 grand final will walk away with $350,000 cash and one year's supply of CB Chicken from CB Foods; $100,000 cash and a one-year supply of bread from National Baking Company; one year supply of Miracle Ketchup from Seprod; and a business development grant from Jamaica National Small Business Loan - another major partner of PAN 2018 - in addition to numerous prizes from other partners.