Food

A crown Jewel

Thursday, September 27, 2012    

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Had life dealt Ravi Anne a different hand, he could have been in a plane's cockpit. However, the airline industry's loss has been our culinary biz's gain, as today he's the executive chef of The Jewel Dunn's River Resort and Spa. "I wanted to be a pilot, but my dad couldn't afford it because in those days, aviation schools in India were expensive and I would have had to go to the States and do it," admits the Indian-born-turned-naturalised-Jamaican. We're chatting beachside at the all-inclusive St Ann hotel, just ahead of the chef overseeing the final touches in the kitchen for dinnertime service.

With aviation dreams dashed, Ravi Anne tells Thursday Food that Plan B saw him cultivating an interest in food as one of his aunts was, in fact, one of the first female chefs in India. "I developed a culinary passion for how kitchens looked. I remember going into the kitchen at a five-star hotel for the first time and being wowed by the stainless steel of the whole place and how things were being done. When I saw it, it felt like more an organised plan of work than the house kitchen where my mom cooks. That's where the fascination began because I wondered, 'Why is this so different?'" In short order, Ravi Anne enrolled in a three-year apprenticeship programme working in his native India's Taj hotel chain and was selected as a corporate management trainee to work in Bombay. "After that stint I was chosen to work on the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line as a culinary development specialist and when that finished, I wanted to travel. I started to work in Johnson & Wales with the help of Professor Mark Moyel, who actually mentored me, but I didn't like the States that much. It's everybody's American dream but for some reason I didn't like it," the chef shares. "So, I travelled to Mexico and the Dominican Republic to work with the Riu chain, and then I came to Jamaica for the opening of the Riu hotel here. Afterwards my journey continued to Jamaica Grande Sunset Resorts and then Half Moon Hotel at the Sugar Mill restaurant, and now I've been at Jewel resort for the past two years."

At The Jewel, Chef Ravi's culinary outlook is straightforward: "We focus on the modern intrepretation of Jamaican cuisine." In doing this, the executive chef deconstructs staple Jamaican dishes and re-imagines them as gourmet fare. "The ingredients and flavours [of Jamaican food] are so good but foreigners don't understand sometimes when we say curry goat or oxtail. They will definitely understand if you debone the oxtail and sautée it with the pasta, or, instead of the traditional lasagna, we present jerk conch lasagna." The chef is serious about elevating expectations of what both Jamaican and Caribbean cuisine can be. A colourful, minimalist artistry defines his food presentations and true to his word, there is no compromise in the distinctive island flavour that comes alive on the tastebuds.

As kitchen duties beckon, Ravi Anne tells us he's looking to make the leap from executive to master chef some day. "My personal goal is to become a certified master chef. I am already a certified executive chef for the last eight years. It's a long road to being a master chef, as you have to work with one for a couple of years, but I will. After I get my title, my goal is to come back to Jamaica and open a small culinary school." Given his can-do spirit, we have no doubt Ravi Anne's aims are very much within his reach.

In the first of our two-part feature on The Jewel Dunn's River Resort and Spa, Thursday Food showcases menu items from the hotel's Platinum gourmet restaurant, and shares recipes.

Watermelon,

Pineapple & Kiwi

Cube, Roasted

Plantain and Goat

Cheese Cream

Ingredients:

1/2 lb watermelon

1/2 lb pineapple

1/2 lb cantaloupe

Method:

Cut all the fruits into Batonnet shape

and arrange in to a Rubik’s Cube

shape based on the colour contrast.

For Sauce — Ingredients:

1 plantain

v3 oz fennel root

2 oz escallion

1/2 oz thyme

3 oz heavy cream

2 oz goat cheese

3 tbs honey

Method:

Roast the plantain along with fennel

root and scallion, remove and blend

with vegetable stock and heavy cream.

Strain and bring the mixture to boil in

saucepan, add chopped fresh thyme,

goat cheese and honey.

Simmer and serve warm with fruit cube.

(Serves 4)

Ackee, Lobster & Spicy Passion Fruit Crème Brûlée

Ingredients:

1 oz olive oil

1 oz butter

2 oz chopped onion

1/2 oz garlic

1/2 oz ginger

2 oz medium diced tomato

1 oz finely chopped escallion

1/4 oz fresh thyme

1/2 tsp Scotch bonnet pepper

1/2 lb fresh boiled ackee

1/2 lb de-shelled and poached

lobster

1/4 tsp cardamum spice

1/4 tsp nutmeg spice

2 oz passsion fruit purée

4 oz heavy cream

Salt and pepper

2 oz grated mozzarella cheese

1tbs brown sugar

Method:

Heat olive oil along with butter and

sauté onion until golden brown.

Add garlic, ginger, diced tomato,

fresh thyme, scallion and sauté well.

Add Scotch bonnet pepper, boiled

ackee, lobster, cardamum and nutmeg

spice and sauté on a low heat until all

the ingredients blend together well.

Finish off with passion fruit purée,

heavy cream and mozzarella cheese.

Season to taste.

Transfer the mixture into the

roasted lobster shell and present it

according to your desire.

Before serving, sprinkle brown sugar

and using a blow torch or gratiné it to

give a golden brown colour.

(Serves four)

Curried Conch Cigars,Sweetsop & Mint Cocktail Sauce

Ingredients:

1 oz olive oil

1 oz butter

2 oz chopped onion

1/2 oz garlic

1/2 oz ginger

1/2 tsp curry powder

1 oz finely chopped escallion

1/4 oz fresh thyme

1/2 tsp Scotch bonnet pepper

1 oz sweet pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

4 each spring roll sheet

1 lb cracked and minced conch

2 oz caramel colour

Vegetable oil for frying

Method:

Heat olive oil along with butter and sauté onion

until golden brown.

Add garlic, ginger, diced tomato, fresh thyme,

scallion and sauté well.

Add Scotch bonnet pepper, curry powder and

sauté until the curry is cooked.

Add the minced conch and sauté well until all

the ingredients blend well.

Roll the spring roll sheet with the mixture into a

cigar shape.

Shallow deep fry till golden brown, remove and

let it rest for a few minutes on a parchment

paper till the oil is drained.

Use caramel colour and give it a nice coat for a

black colour finish.

For the sauce

Ingredients:

4 sweetsops, each deseeded and blended

3 oz fresh mint, chopped and blended

1/4 tbs shrimp base

1/4 tsp mint liquor

Method:

Mix all the ingredients in a sauce pan and bring

to boil, season to taste.

(Serves four)

Presentation

Use a Champagne flute or a container of your

choice, pour the sauce in the bottom of the

flute and place the cigar in the flute dipped in

the sauce.

Garnish the glass with a lime wedge.

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