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From farm to table

Published:Friday | August 13, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Italian-born Giuliano Pignataro and Saudia Stephenson pour ingredients for the mango Bellini for guests.
Guests enjoy cocktails and the scenery before dining at the Farm to Table Dinner.
Guests make their way along a dirt track to the venue of the Farm to Table Dinner. - Photos by Noel Thompson
Melissa Roach (right), a waitress at Jake's Hotel and Villas, serves Allison Rangolan-McFarlane and husband Andrew appetisers.
Staff members at Jake's Hotel and Villas who prepared the meal for guests at the Farm to Table Dinner on Saturday, August 7. From left are: Dockery Lloyd, Saudia Stephenson, Falon Parchment, Lorica Powell, Adina Parchment and Melissa Roach.
It's dinner time and guests are ready to be fed.
Wine specialist Devon Reid of Caribbean Producers Jamaica (CPJ) informs guests about its various vintages at the Farm to Table Dinner in Round Hill, near Southfield in St Elizabeth. CPJ provided the wines for the dinner.
Randy Wicks (centre) watches as Kingsley Reynolds (left) and son, Kingsley 'Crown Head' Reynolds Jr, ensure that the ital soup is properly cooked for guests.

Noel Thompson, Gleaner Writer


Something new and different is happening on the south side of St Elizabeth. Foreigners and locals are experiencing the feel of eating under mango trees in the middle of a farm at night, with the aid of kerosene lamps.

It is a new concept and something that tourists can enjoy, and it also gives Jamaicans the opportunity to enjoy fine dining in an unusual setting. The foods are organic and are freshly prepared straight from the farm to the table.

Aptly called 'Farm to Table Dinner', it is the brainchild of American Liz Solms, her fiancé, Italian born Giuliano Pignataro and Jake's Hotel and Villas - an affiliate of the Island Outpost brand. The dinner will be held once monthly and hosts no more than 35 guests each time. The first event was held in July and will continue through December and beyond, except for the rainy month of October.

Maintaining authenticity

Solms told The Gleaner that the idea to host no more than 35 people at a time was to allow the event to maintain its authenticity and intimacy and not grow elaborately out of hand.

"The idea was sparked when we decided that we wanted an innovative way to bring attention to the beauty and culture of the Pedro Plains area," she said.

Solms also works with a non-government organisation, which helps farmers transition to producing organic foods, so it was fitting that she chose Rudolph McLean's farm in Round Hill for the monthly staging of the event.

"This farm is 100 per cent organic and I thought it was suitable to host the dinner. The atmosphere is also very beautiful."

Picturesque scenery

As guests alighted from their vehicles by the roadside, they were amazed to see the picturesque scenery. In the distance lies the Pedro Bluff - the southernmost point in St Elizabeth - Linda Harrison explained.

On arrival, Saudia Stephenson, Solms and Giuliano offered guests mango Bellini (mango juice with champagne), before walking along the dirt track leading to the dining area.

Halfway down, the staff of Jake's Villas served guests appetisers, while rastafarians Kingsley Reynolds, his son Kingsley Jr, better known as 'Crown Head', and Randy Wicks were busy putting the final touches to a large pot of ital soup wood fire.

There was much merrymaking among everyone as dinner was served. At the end, guests exited the farm aided by cellphone illumination and flashlights, until they reached a section of the pathway more brightly lit by bamboo torches. "What an experience! This is awesome, and I would certainly do it again," was the sentiment of many guests (including this reporter).