Fourth Annual Jamaica Food & Drink Festival

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Thursday, October 04, 2018

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It's that time of year again when we just have to give in to the fact that we all have to buy 'roomier' clothes once October is over. The fourth annual Jamaica Food & Drink Festival (JFDF) runs October 20 - 28, and this year promises more deliciousness and support for Kingston's tourism sector. JFDF 2018 officially kicked off with a media launch Thursday last at the University of Technology (UTech) Jamaica School of Hospitality & Tourism's hotel facility.

The event gave attendees a preview of this year's festival along with the opportunity to sample tasty morsels from a number of the festival's sponsors and participants.

The JFDF has a broad mission of repositioning “Kingston as a destination city through gastronomy”. The festival, too, has an ecological focus and will utilise only biodegradable products for its events. Proceeds will assist in the completion of a lecture theatre and test kitchen located at the hotel facility of UTech Jamaica's School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. This contribution will “improve the training facilities and prepare young talent for the food and beverage industry”.

The week-long festival kicks off with Copperwood's Pork Palooza which includes competitions seeking to crown “Top Hog” and “Most Innovative Pork Dish” winners. The Hope Gardens-located event starts at 7:00 pm. The rest of the line-up includes newcomer D'Vine (wine-pairing experience) on Sunday, October 21; Chopstix (Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese and Korean cuisines) on Wednesday, October 24; Crisp (crispy foods paired with local and imported beers) on Thursday, October 25; Picante (spicy foods paired with cocktails) on Friday, October 26; Meet Street and the Market (food trucks and pop-ups) on Saturday, October 27; and Brunch and PAN 2018 (celebration of pan chicken) both on Sunday, October 28.

This year's JFDF promises an exciting line-up of international and local chefs. International guests including notable Caymanian chef Sara Mair, Food Network Star Season 11 winner Eddie Jackson and Caymanian chef and blogger Dylan Benoit. These chefs will join over 30 local chefs, caterers and restaurateurs who include Fromage Gourmet Market and Brasserie co-principal Lisa-Gaye Chin, Colin Hylton, Jacqui Tyson, André Sewell, Christina Simonitsch, Rainforest Seafoods sushi master Eliseo 'Oggie' Caliguia, chocolatier Michelle Smith, Oji Jaja and Culinary Federation of Jamaica Chair Dennis Mcintosh.

Leading up to the festival there are a number of buzz-worthy events. Tomorrow, October 5, there's a wine pairing seminar for chefs hosted by Select Brands at Broken Plate. Next Thursday, October 11, festival organisers are offering a “sneak taste” at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel. There's a “cocktail clash” on Tuesday, October, 16 at the KIA showroom followed the next morning by a Yello Media seminar — Style, Snap, Sell — at the Marriott Kingston hotel, which wraps the pre-festival event series.

The festival is not just focused on fun. Organisers have ensured that there are a number of seminars and mixers that will give young people access to career-building information and potential mentors. Sagicor is hosting a seminar for young professional women at UTech, Jamaica on the morning of Wednesday, October 23. Later that day there will be a mixer for chefs and media at the Regency Bar and Lounge at the Terra Nova All-Suite hotel; and on Friday, October 26 celebrity chef and soon-to-be cooking school head, Chef Wenford P Simpson, will host a talk for UTech, Jamaica students at the university's hotel facility.

Jamaica Food & Drink Festival 2018 is presented by National Bakery, Sagicor Group, Yello Media Group, Copperwood Pork, the Jamaica Tourist Board, Select Brands, the Jamaica Observer, Appleton, Rainforest Seafoods, KIA Motors, Walkerswood Caribbean Foods, Urban Development Corporation, Massy Gas and Wisynco.

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