Sheena Gayle, Gleaner Writer
The second staging of the Taste of Grand Palladium showed that the future of Jamaica's culinary industry is in good hands as several young cooks and chefs vied for the top award and bragging rights in a two-day competition.
Staged on the lush property of Grand Palladium Resorts in Point, Hanover, several cooks and chefs were challenged beyond their comfort zone to woo the palates of judges with flavour and presentation.
According to two-time winner of the Taste of Grand Palladium competition, Damion Myers, the contest has allowed him to sharpen his culinary skills. He lauded the effort of the resort in giving chefs and cooks a chance to do so.
"I have ambition to be an executive chef so hopefully, with this continued effort to improve my craft, I am given that opportunity to take my career to the next level. I have been a chef for 10 years. Being a chef is all I know, I have never tried anything else," an elated Myers said.
Internationally renowned chef and owner of Mair Cutlery, Anthony Mair, who was one of the judges of the competitions, felt pleased with the level of enthusiasm and creativity being shown by the chefs and cooks who, he added, are on the right path to culinary success.
"I was completely impressed with their use of natural ingredients to showcase the meals they prepared. The cooks really surprised me, because these are second- and third-year students who are coming out and spreading their wings," Mair said. Their attitude, professionalism and mannerism were in line with what the rest of the world is doing with their culinary youths.
The Jamaica-born executive chef, who is also the founder of the Caribbean Culinary Network, underscored the importance of such competitions and how they can help to enhance Jamaica's culinary repertoire and that of these chefs.
"To put themselves on display like that in front of their peers and judges, it's not a small thing. For them to take the intrinsic nature of our cuisine, put themselves on display and showcase their creativity, they have to be applauded," Mair outlined.