IN ADDITION to bragging rights and the CB Pan Chicken Grand Championship trophy, this year's winner will also receive more than half a million dollars for being adjudged Jamaica's most creative jerk chicken chef. Sponsor, the CB Group, has increased its cash award for first prize from $150,000 to $275,000, while Churches Co-operative Credit Union, which has been a partner since 2010, will for the first time provide $250,000 for a business expansion grant, for a cash total of $525,000. This is more than three times the money last year's winner took home.
The Churches' grant, according Kimberly Mullings, brand manager at CB Chicken, is an outgrowth of the tremendous work the credit union has done with the pan chicken vendors in helping to grow their business by way of conducting seminars on topics such as financial management. It has and continues to offer guidance to help them grow or diversify their businesses.
"So if they want to open a restaurant, expand into multiple pans or buy a vehicle to transport the pan(s) and other equipment, we want them to be able to have that opportunity," said Mullings. "We recognise that at the end of the day it is entrepreneurs who are going to make us (CB Group) grow, so we need to cultivate their needs as well. Churches Co-operative Credit Union is helping us to realise that in a practical way," she shared with The Gleaner during Tuesday's media launch of the 2012 competition at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel.
The Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), as it has done since 2005 when the competition started, will conduct parish eliminations leading up to the three regional finals - Sunday, May 27 at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre in St Andrew; Saturday, June 30 at Dump-Up Beach in Montego Bay, St James; and on Saturday, September 29 at a venue to be decided in Clarendon.
On Sunday, November 18, the 13 parish winners and second-place finalists (Kingston and St Andrew treated as one) will compete for top honours at a new location, Ocean Boulevard, downtown Kingston, as it has outgrown the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre. Participants should submit a recipe and valid food handler's permit, along with applications to the JCDC in their area.
Meanwhile, agriculture minister Roger Clarke, in endorsing the annual event which started in 2005, noted that it was consistent with the national drive to get more Jamaicans to 'Eat What We Grow and Grow What We Eat'. He admitted to being impressed with the number of self-employed persons who have become entrepreneurs in their own right, having started as jerk chicken vendors.