It was better than dinner and a movie at the Great Jamaica Cook Off in Montego Bay on Wednesday.
Showcasing authentic Jamaican cuisine, the inaugural event, which was part of Jamaica Promotions Corporation's (JAMPRO) Opportunities Jamaica 2013, was held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.
The cook off saw four chefs battling to produce creative fusion dishes using only Jamaican ingredients. Executive chef Ainsley Lambie of the Coyaba Resort, showed that he had full mastery of Jamaican products when he won the title of 'top chef.' Chef Lambie competed against Sous Chef Demor Walters of the Sunset Jamaica Grande; Executive Chef Omar Gordon of the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort, who walked away with the sectional prize for 'Best Use of Ingredients'; and Chef de Cuisine Christopher Golding of Half Moon's Sugar Mills Restaurant who won the prize for 'Best Work Station'.
Aim of competition
The competition was to improve the dialogue among hoteliers and restaurateurs, producers, suppliers, chefs and culinary professionals as part of the efforts by the national trade and investment agency to promote the use of Jamaican products and services.
The chefs had to prepare an appetiser and entrée in one hour and 15 minutes in front of a live audience. The chefs were judged by multi-award winning chef, Dennis McIntosh of the Rio Nuevo Village as chief judge; Chef Daniel Schweizer of the Goddard Catering Group, and experienced chef and former television personality, Paulette Rhoden.
Chef Lambie received a $25,000 cash prize from the First Regional Cooperative Credit Union as well as a trophy to commemorate his win from JAMPRO.
An excited Chef Lambie told Today, "It was intense but great. I haven't been in a competition for a long time and this kind of event needs to happen more." According to Lambie, his style of cooking relies heavily on Jamaican products, which made his task of winning that much easier.
Opportunities Jamaica was staged in Montego Bay from September 30 to October 1. The annual event is JAMPRO's business-to-business (B2B) linkages event staged under the theme - 'Establishing Partnerships for Success.'