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Foodie Haven - Jamaica Epicurean Escape a success

Published:Thursday | December 6, 2012 | 12:00 AM
An attractive platter of shrimp.
Celebrated singer Patti LaBelle carved in watermelon. She was among the entertainers who performed at the Jamaica Epicurean Escape.
A pleased-looking Eva Myers (in hat) watches as patrons are served at Evita's booth.
Bread pudding with rum sauce, and fruit tarts
Patrons at the Chefs for Life booth. - Carl Gilchrist PHOTOS

Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer

The event might not have pulled the massive crowd that it deserved, but from a food perspective, the inaugural Jamaica Epicurean Escape at Richmond Estate in Priory, St Ann was an overwhelming success.

The vastness of the Richmond Estate was transformed into a fascinating food village - but it was more than just food at the Gleaner co-sponsored event. The arts were well represented, with several well-known and not-so-well-known artists having booths to exhibit and sell their products. The kids were well taken care of in the youth village, hosted by Rainbow Land nursery school, as parents enjoyed the culinary delights from local and international chefs from the United States, Canada, Panama and the Caribbean.

It was educational, too, as Firstman, from Rastafari Indigenous Village in Porto Bello, Montego Bay, spoke to the audience at his booth about the benefits of herbs.

On the musical side, Chronixx gave a scintillating 30-minute set, which was basically a preview of his scheduled 90-minute act scheduled for Tracks and Records on Tuesday. Tami Chynn, Rootz Underground, Pluto Shervington and Tony Rebel also performed.


The afternoon was highlighted by Grammy Hall of Fame inductee, the multi-award-winning Patti LaBelle, when she introduced her line of Lady Marmalade sauces to Jamaica, in a session on stage with Jewel Resort's chef Ravi Anne and internationally acclaimed Canadian chef, Ted Reader, who used sauces from the range of 15 products in a cooking demonstration.

Reader also used Jamaica's internationally renowned beer, Red Stripe, in his food preparation, eliciting a response from brand manager Erin Mitchell, who told The Gleaner: "Red Stripe is happy to be part of the inaugural staging of the Epicurean Escape and elated that famed chef, Ted Reader, chose our beer as a main ingredient in his recipes."

With dozens of chefs cooking up their favourite meals, the cuisine was as varied as, and maybe even more than, the crowd expected. Think about your favourite food and it was there. From roasted breadfruit and potato to delectable shrimp cocktails, conch-flavoured ice cream, cheesecake, jerk naseberry pork, Rastafarian dishes, soups, meats of all types, prepared in a wide variety of ways.

The Epicurean Escape got the thumbs up from the Culinary Federation of Jamaica's (CFJ) president, Kenrick Stewart, who is also assistant professor at the College of Business and Hospitality Management at Northern Caribbean University.

Said Stewart:"I totally love the idea. It gives persons an opportunity to showcase what it means when we say out of many one people. I mean, persons have been enjoying the various foods, whether it be Rastafarian, whether it be vegetarian, people are just enjoying, you can see it on their faces, you walk by, you hear them talking about it and just the whole mix of what I always say, contemporary cuisine, where you take the local products and build them into something contemporary that puts smiles on persons faces. And for that I said kudos to Marcia and Lorraine Fung and all the persons who conceptualised this event."

Stewart said each booth has its own uniqueness. He suggested the event become a calendar one.

"I think it's a fabulous idea, it's a fun-filled family event, it's a very good event, I love it. From the Culinary Federation of Jamaica standpoint, it's a wonderful event," Stewart said.