VIDEO: A dream marriage of dishes by chef Colin Hylton

Thursday, August 16, 2018

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Twelve years ago NYC chef Bradford Thompson married Jamaican Kerry-Ann Evans-Brown at Round Hill Hotel and Villas. The top chef-studded ceremony took place on Saturday, August 5 2006. Chef Thompson, named as one of Food and Wine's Best New Chefs in 2004, received the James Beard Award for Best Chef: South West a few months before his nuptials.

The weekend of activities was centred on food. Naturally. A modern Jamaican feast that included jerked suckling pig, red snapper run down and salt fish fritters was prepared by the Round Hill kitchen, run then by executive chef Trevor Duncan. Only Round Hill and the happy couple could get the great Daniel Boulud to eat run down! Other star chefs attending the event included Johnny Iuzzini, who was then the executive pastry chef at Jean Georges and Café Nougatine; Salumeria Biellese head honcho Paul Valetutti; Riviera Produce principal Benjamin Friedman; and local chef Colin Hylton of Guilt Trip.

In 2006 Guilt Trip was the place to see and be seen and chef Hylton's gateaux were legendary. No wonder chef Bradford Thompson had Hylton do the dessert table for his wedding. The divine treats included rum and raisin cheesecake (remember Guilt Trip's rum and raisin cheesecake? Swoon!), mango parfait, Guinness dacquoise, white chocolate June plum bombe and passion fruit and tamarind crêpes. The weekend was, in a word, unreal.

Fast-forward 12 years, chef Thompson, wife Kerry-Ann (who has not aged a day) and their adorable children Cassius and Lucea were on The Rock to celebrate the couple's anniversary. Close friends of the couple, Annette Francis-Barnett and husband Mark, decided to host an intimate dinner party at their home to celebrate the anniversary. As a surprise, chef Colin Hylton was asked to cater the event. And, man does he still have it!

His menu comprised spiced chicken and pig's tail stew; oxtail lasagne with hoisin and ginger; ackee and red herring with vine-ripened tomatoes. Tomato and radish salad with pickled artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes; smashed and minted English peas; lentil and celery salad; lemony asparagus with Scotch bonnet and capers; steamed jasmine rice with parched coconut; and ripe avocado (pear) with a good slick of freshly squeezed lime juice. To finish things off, passion fruit gelée with fresh blackberries and mango, and a carrot cake/cheesecake gateau. Apologies for you being hungry right now.

Thursday Food does not have enough columns to do chef Hylton's meal justice. It exploded with flavour. It was also unfussy — an indicia of a confident chef who doesn't need contrivances. Each dish was strong and could easily be judged individually. The chicken and pig's tail stew was spectacular. Done in a deep and rich Malaysian red curry, the meal would make a Lipitor user double up on doses and dive in. It is in simplicity that you find true beauty, and chef Hylton's minted English peas dish was just that — a thing of beauty. Only a skilled chef can make green peas that satisfying.

If you're not an ackee lover, our apologies. The ackee with red herring was so well seasoned that it could only be described as moreish. Perfectly cooked ackee gently sautéed with red herring, vine-ripened tomatoes and enough Scotch bonnet to make you say “yes, chef!” But not so much that you're panting and asking for a glass of milk.

The meal was a dream marriage of dishes.

Just a note about Cassius and Lucea Evans-Thompson. To be that young and possess such laser focus when it comes to food is inspiring. Their poise belie their years and they could easily engage the adults in conversation. Both siblings made a study of every dish on the table, and even knew to stay away from the Scotch bonnet peppers. They assisted chef Hylton in plating the evening's dessert. From what Thursday Food witnessed, they are definitely a couple of future James Beard Award winners!

Guests exchanged stories from the wedding day and friends caught up over an amazing meal. It's hard to think of how the event could have been improved. Oh, maybe to witness Daniel Boulud eating some of that chicken and pig's tail. Thursday Food is certain that he'd love it!

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