Sheena Gayle, Gleaner Writer
Despite taking a day off from their respective kitchens, there was no absence of mouth-watering flavours as some of Jamaica's top culinary experts and stars on the rise participated in the Chef's Day Off event by the Caribbean Culinary Network (CCN) on Sunday.
The third staging featured the infamous lionfish that continues to wreak havoc in our local fishing waters. Young and experienced chefs used the day to unveil new and delicious ways of devouring this protein-rich meat.
Young chef on the rise and owner of Eskay Caterers, Stephen Hamilton, dazzled the judges with his Lionfish Croquette coated with beetroot floating on Appleton melon pumpkin cubes served with Lionfish Sushi and Curry Tartar Dip. His creativity scored huge points as he won an individual gold medal for the dish.
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According to international chef and founder of CCN, Anthony Mair, the idea of showcasing the lionfish was to help in advertising the consumption of it and the different methods of preparation while pushing creativity of students and experienced chefs.
"It was an opportunity for us to take this protein and put it into the hands of trained chefs who have travelled the world. In Jamaica, so much of the protein source consumed is from chicken because of the price," Mair pointed out.
"But now that there is the lionfish and you can purchase it for approximately the same price as chicken, it is important that Jamaicans start consuming the fish, because of what it is doing to our waters," he further explained.
Some 38 executive chefs and industry professionals took part in the Chef's Day Off event. In addition, 264 culinary students from high schools, HEART and the University of Technology participated in demonstrations and competitions.
"I am encouraged by the movement of getting young chefs educated in culinary arts. However, I would like to lend CCN support and services as executive chefs and industry professionals to the institutions that currently teach culinary art in Jamaica, so that we can come into the classrooms from a high-school level, if not before, to communicate directly to them so when they come to us from their training they can understand what it is we want from them."