Jordanne Delahaye, Gleaner Writer
'A Starry Night' lured an impressive crowd out on Friday night for its fifth staging. The biennial soirée which is put on by the Lay Persons Initiative of the United Church in Jamaica and Cayman Islands, treated patrons to an out of this world experience while raising funds for the Mount Olivet Boys Home and the Pringle Home.
Those who are familiar with the grounds of Jamaica House would not have recognised it, as the venue was transformed into a spectacular intergalactic arena.
The entrance into the event was made to simulate the boarding of a shuttle and once inside, patrons embarked on a space odyssey which included stops at the moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune. Dazzling decorations and lighting played up on the space theme and brought some authenticity to the event which made A Starry Night that much more enjoyable.
The stars in the sky may have been barely visible but the event had its fair share of luminaries from the political and social apex. However, all in attendance were given the celebrity treatment as they made their way to the different planets, sampling delectable delicacies prepared by award-winning chefs while taking in the night's entertainment offerings.
At the moon, patrons were offered a Mediterranean medley which, according to Chef Simone Walker-Barrett of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, included dishes from six different Mediter-ranean countries.
Heat to the festivities
Mercury, the hottest planet, served some fiery cuisine. Succulent barbecue paired with cilantro crostini, revealed an American-Italian fusion that Chef Ramesh Maraj of G's BBQ explained is meant to provide patrons with familiar dishes in an unfamiliar way.
The second hottest planet in the Milky Way also brought some heat to the festivities. Chef Jacqui Tyson and her 'From Thought to Finish Jamento' team stayed true to the space theme, donning haute alien ensembles and serving up liquor-laced delicacies all flambéed and full of flavour.
Mars was all Nigerian fare and featured food that might have been hard to pronounce but delicious nonetheless.
Ace caterer Lorraine Fung, who was in charge of Jupiter, revealed that the Milky Way's biggest planet was offering delectable dishes from the world's biggest nation. Chinese food mixed with other oriental cuisine added some delicious variations to the night's offering.
Saturn was probably the most liked planet for the night as it housed all the deserts for the night. The airy planet offered delicate pastries and a variety of sweet delights.
Top chef at the Cardiff Hotel and chairman of the Culinary Federation of Jamaica, Dennis McIntosh, traded in his fork for a trident as he served up some delectable seafood at, of course, Neptune.
All the planets offered something unique to the palate and they all served up some great flavours. Patrons were also thoroughly entertained while they sampled the cuisine.
The performances on the night were also on par, taking patrons on a musical voyage.
Ibo Cooper and Friends kicked off the live concert aspect of the night on many high notes. The group performed a medley of songs which highlighted the evolution of Jamaican music.
It was then time for the Arturo Tappin Jazz Ensemble to take the reins, and the band guided listeners through an out of this world musical experience. From dubstep to house to authentic jazz and blues, the band dazzled the audience with its amazing musical expertise.
Jazz/reggae saxophonist Arturo Tappin, showed off his skill with the instrument which on many occasions, coaxed spirited outbursts from the audience. The band performed jazzy renditions of popular songs like Party Rocking and the ubiquitous Gangnam Style, much to the crowd's amusement.
Grammy Award winner, Regina Belle closed the show and ended the night in a way only she could. The R&B powerhouse performed songs from her extensive repertoire that most audience members were very familiar with.
Belle engaged patrons as she belted out song after song and worked the stage like a true, experienced performer.
A Starry Night also hosted a silent auction in the name of goodwill. President of the Jamaica China Friendship Association, Fay Pickersgill, played host to the auction and revealed to The Gleaner that most of the paintings were donated to the cause.
Pickersgill also expressed that all of the artists were Jamaican and that she is expecting this year's silent auction to be as successful as or even surpass last year's.