Business

Chopstix takes aim at creating a global gastronomic destination in Kingston

BY HANNIFFA PATTERSON
Business reporter
pattersonh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, November 05, 2017

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Asia collided with Kingston last week at the Jamaica Food and Drink Festival.

On location were some of Jamaica's premier Asian and Indian restaurants and caterers who had the chance to share the best of their native and fusion fare with the crowd. The event was sponsored by CB Foods Ltd, Rainforest Seafoods, Meat Experts Ltd, and Sagicor Investments Ltd.

According to Alicia Bogues, regional development manager for CB Foods, the event was created to “help reposition Kingston as a destination city, through its gastronomic offerings…”

“…Jamaica has cemented itself on the map through its music, speak, culture and sport, but it has not yet truly capitalised and showcased its versatility through food beyond jerk. What's more, the island has so much more to offer than sun, sand and sea. Kingston is the capital, it's where most of the action, grit and edge are, and we felt we could capture this through food. Asian food has specifically played an integral role in our restaurant scene, so we deliberately involved a variety of Asian cuisine with a twist of local,” she said.

Clearly, the weather did not stop the patrons, as the Chopstix event welcomed over 600 patrons and was oversubscribed, as were the other events. “Each event was oversubscribed, despite the challenges with weather. It was our best year yet, and the start of something much greater to come,”said Bogues.

The event was definitely good for business, as locals had the opportunity to experiment with a variety of Asian fare in one place and at an affordable price.

For Dorel Cover and her daughter Shauna-Kaye d'Aguilar, it was money well spent. “Yes, if you went to various restaurants it would be more expensive under normal circumstances; you wouldn't be able to afford it. So, it was definitely worth it.”

They were also impressed with the ambiance created in the zen gardens and felt that that added to the authentic Asian feel and even extended to the dining experience. “When you entered, the ambiance was so appealing, it definitely made us look forward to the food,” mother and daughter shared.

The Meat Experts featured chef Oji Jaja and at their tent, they offered a sweet and spicy Mongolian beef satay and balsamic ginger glazed rib eye steak.

Rainforest Foods, another main sponsor, served a variety of Asian fare from their pavilion, where they featured corporate chef Evrol Ebanks, Zen restaurant and China Express.

According to Roger Lyn, director of marketing and corporate affairs, this was Rainforest Food's third year as sponsors. “Seafood is a big part of any food event. We are the seafood authority of the Caribbean and work closely with CB foods. So when people come from all over the world they are looking for a variety of food; seafood is an important part and we thought it was a good fit for us to showcase the versatility and creativeness of our chefs.”

Also present was Pooja Chatani and her team from Tamarind restaurant. “An event like this is not only a great event to showcase your food, but it's also an educational platform for restaurateurs, chefs and caterers. We meet others in our field and learn new things.” Her tent offered tandoori shrimp served with kashmiri naan.

Bogues confirmed. “While these events afford patrons a fantastic culinary offering, behind the scenes there's the opportunity afforded to all participants, restaurants, caterers and hotel chefs, to showcase their talent and garner more business. “

Such an event also does much to bring positive attention to the capital, Kingston. “Plus, driving more traffic to Kingston augurs well for the overall restaurant scene, from the cooks, chefs to the suppliers. It's a win-win for businesses before they hit the busy Christmas season,” Bogues noted.

The event appeared to be a hit, as every tent had long lines with patrons waiting to take a bite into the Food and Drink Festival's Asian night.

Other purveyors present at the event included Lorraine Fung, Sora Japanese, Nirvanna Indian Fusion Cuisine, Mystic Thai, Suzanne Couch, Gariel Ferguson, National FT. Christian Sweeney, Dawn Mitchell and Rebecca Karram.

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