Fri | Sep 30, 2022

Chef Simmone Edwin wins braising battle

Published:Sunday | September 18, 2022 | 5:16 PM
Chief judge on Maggi Food Court, Jerron ‘Jeronimo’ Green.
Chief judge on Maggi Food Court, Jerron ‘Jeronimo’ Green.

The carnival of Caribbean flavour and culinary skills continues with another epic battle in the Maggi Food Court competition. The heated combo of Jamaicans, a Trinidadian and Guyanese raised the bar of the competition, setting off alarms and possible appeals.

The chief judge, Jeronimo Green, called the court to order and gave free rein to the defendants to gather their evidence and exhibits to support their cases. The stage was set for the braising battle between Matthew Bancroft, sous-chef at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, and Simmone Edwin, a private chef from Trinidad and Tobago.

Bancroft's love for the kitchen came from sheer curiosity from seeing his father in the kitchen. His first role of peeling onions is forever etched in his memory, as it signified the start of a fulfilling journey. His co-workers bore testament to his passion and talent, and were confident that he would emerge the Maggi Food Court Caribbean Champion.

In a refreshing twist, Edwin actually admired her opponent. She spoke positively about him and was quite thrilled to work with the "silent killer", as she called him. Not in any way daunted, she was ready to become the 'Maggi-cian' on the floor as she has been cooking was her whole life.

With 45 minutes on the clock, the food court came alive with swift movements across the floor, the chopping of the seasonings and the sizzling of pots. Each chef set out to create meals that would cement them a place in the final braising round.

Edwin heated the kitchen a little bit too much, sending the jurors scampering as the smoke detectors went off. The chefs showed they could definitely manage the heat, as it was business as usual.

Juror Natasha De Boug brought a little more drama to the kitchen when she confiscated Bancroft's cream cheese and Edwin's shrimp. She admitted to her fellow jurors, Ockino Petrie and guest juror Janille O'Brian, that she had no idea what the ingredients were intended for but wanted to test if they could complete their dishes without them.

The Glenmuir graduate employed the common counting-relief technique and managed to maintain his composure to finish his Maggi's Bird Nest, served with callaloo rundown. The jurors were quite impressed with his chicken breast, so much so that Petrie admitted that this would be a meal of choice if he were to even go to another restaurant.

Edwins' African-inspired gumbo was next on the plate. Incorporating the Maggi All-Purpose Seasoning, she used the chicken breasts and her Jasmine braised coconut rice to wow the judges. Chef De Boug shared that "it was exactly what she was looking for"; however, Petrie shared challenges with mixing flavours. Bancroft emerged as the winner.

THE BRAISING TWIST

With a heartfelt send-off, Timothy Persaud left Ann's Puri shop in Guyana to win US$10,000. With the blessing of his seven children and wife, Persaud stepped on to the Maggi Food Court to demolish his Jamaican counterpart, Andrew Waite.

Waite owns a catering company in Montego Bay and boasts that he has learnt from some of the most experienced chefs across the world.

With no formal training but a clear love for food, Waite has managed to capture the hearts and support of many customers continue to request his services.

The braising showdown started with the contestannts gathering their elements from the refrigerator and the pantry. Each of them seemed to be quite confident in what they were preparing and quietly worked at it.

The lack of drama aroused the suspicion of the learned judge, who appeared from his chambers to check on the proceedings. Not feeling the heat, he enquired about the status of the operations and then retired to his chambers, seemingly unimpressed.

Guest juror O'Brien decided to add a stir by taking away Waite's entire pot of sauce and a can of tomato paste from Persaud. Both men seemed unperturbed and just continued their cooking.

Before long, the bailiff gave the final time signal, leaving them to add their closing statements.

The disappointment was quite evident on Persaud's face, as it seemed he was not quite finished. Waite had just managed to put on his final touches.

Chef Persaud's presentation did not impress the jurors, and the taste was also met with strong criticism.

Waite's dish of a spicy pork chop with a pineapple-lemon sauce, served with potatoes, string beans and carrot, was also found lacking in multiple areas and had the jurors in a bind as they could not decide on a winner. De Boug withdrew her vote, leaving them to ask the bailiff for guidelines on how to move forward.

After consultation, both contestants were sent home, and there was a call back from Edwin.

No strangers to each other, the competitors were ready to get started to prepare "the best dish of their lives" using Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Maggi Coconut Milk, along with chicken breasts.

In a display of versatility, the chefs quickly got to work. Upon reaching the jurors' table, it was discovered that they had indeed prepared the same dish. Unfortunately, Bancroft's chicken was undercooked and was very disappointing for the jurors. Trinidadian Chef Edwin is one step closer to the coveted title of Maggi Food Court Caribbean Champion title and the cash prize of US$10,000.