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A Unique Culinary Experience at The Steak House on the Verandah

Thursday, November 16, 2017

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The Steak House on the Verandah was the venue yesterday afternoon for the second event in this year's staging of the Jamaica Observer's annual Applaud It! initiative. Ten students of Ardenne High School stepped confidently into the courtyard of Devon House — Kingston's Gastronomy Centre — and up the steps, where they were escorted to their table. Two hours later, confidence still intact but so much more aware of life and its many offerings, the students applauded the unique opportunity afforded them by their hosts Kristen Burrowes, director of The Steak House on the Verandah and General Manager Michael Fulford.

“Do not just pass through the experience, but [rather] allow the experience to pass through you,” encouraged the school's Dean of Discipline Reverend Mario Samuels. His words did not fall on deaf ears. The students engaged Kristen Burrowes on the different types of cattle raised, the types of steak available at the restaurant, and were excited to glean that becoming a butcher was as noble a profession as a lawyer, doctor or architect. Indeed, by the time General Manager Michael Fulford had explained the science behind a restaurant's pairing of wines with menu options, one could have heard a pin drop on the verandah.

The best was yet to come! The Executive Chef Alex D-Great, from the amuse-bouche — chicken roulade with blue cheese atop avocado and pepper jelly served on individual spoons — seduced the students with every course. The expressions of delight were audible as students lifted spoons of the roasted beef pumpkin soup with natty goat cheese, corn French bread, and a cinnamon foam drizzled with Scotch bonnet oil. Mindful of their fine dining lesson, napkins were used to discreetly attend to spills, and soup was spooned away from the body. The gentlemen acknowleged the ladies' arrival at the table, while the ladies were introduced to sitting at the table. French bread was artfully presented with garlic-balsamic and herb-flavoured oils.

The main, 4oz tenderloin medallion, sparked the required frisson. “Meat cannot be this good!” exclaimed Matthew Atkinson. “I am eating this very slowly and plan to come back.” His peers concurred with a few once again engaging Burrowes on the excellent tenderloin as they upped the ante by adding mushrooms and caramelised onions.

Conversation flowed easily as the students shared with Michael Fulford their favourite foods as well as their hopes for Jamaica. The wishes were for a more modern society and a reduction in corruption, poverty and unemployment. There was, too, an appeal for ladies to exhibit a higher moral code.

Banana Brle with Devon House ice-cream ended the meal in style. There'd be more: a decadent chocolate gateau courtesy of Chocolate Dreams.

The Jamaica Observer's annual Applaud It! initiative — conceptualised by Novia McDonald-Whyte, senior associate editor at the Jamaica Observer — has moved from a one-week initiative to three as more industry heads want to participate. What remains however, is the concept to provide a unique opportunity for industry leaders to meet members of the next generation exactly where they are and engage them during a formal meal that exposes them to social and dining skills.

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