Food

'So You Think You Can Cook' Challenge

Nestle Jamaica's 'So You Think You Can Cook' Challenges 18 Next Gen Culinary Talents

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Thursday, August 22, 2019

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Twenty-three-year-old Crystal Smith emerged winner of Nestl é Jamaica's inaugural “So You Think You Can Cook” culinary challenge, out of a pool of 18 budding young chefs. Rounding out the top three were Amiri Dawkins and Sharmarley Cooper at the finals held last Thursday inside the company's corporate kitchen at its Ferry Pen head office in Kingston.

The So You Think You Can Cook Young Culinary Talents (YOCUTA) cooking challenge was designed by Nestlé's Corporate Chef Andrew Slolely, to unearth and showcase the raw culinary talents of the company's 18 culinary interns. The YOCUTAs were required to get creative using mandatory Nestlé ingredients along with other products/ingredients from the fridge and pantry. The competition was time-sensitive, requiring each YOCUTA to prepare and plate a total of four dishes within 1hr 15 minutes. The scores from each round of the competition were used to determine the top YOCUTA of 2019. That overall winner will be given a set of chef's knives from JA Henckels International and a one-year contract to work as a chef for Nestle professional.

Nestlé Professional, the Nestlé Food Service business arm, served as patron for the competition. On this occasion, the young chefs from the YOCUTA programme had an opportunity to exhibit their culinary skills and nutrition mastery over a three-day period.

 

Dessert/Baking Competition

Over the first two days of heated competition the YOCUTAs were required to conceptualise one dessert/baking recipe showcasing two products from the baking category; Tollhouse, Nestlé Sweetened Condensed Milk, Maggi Liquid Coconut Milk and Carnation Evaporated Milk along with Nescafé Instant Coffee and other ingredients from the pantry. At the 20-minute mark, the participants were required to utilise Milo Cookies in their final dessert presentation. The desserts were presented to the panel of judges and the top four winners from each group moved on to battle in the savoury round of the competition.

 

Savoury Competition/Finals

On the final day of the competition the top eight YOCUTAs who advanced were required to prepare a complete main course dish for the panel of judges. They were required to utilise at least three of the following ingredients; Maggi, Saffron Rice It Up, Maggi Bechamel, Maggi Mashed Potatoes, Maggi Liquid Coconut Milk and Maggi All-Purpose Seasoning. At the 30-minute mark the participants were thrown another curve ball: to utilise Nestlé Orchard Pineapple Juice in their final main course presentation. Each of the eight chefs were judged based on the following criteria: creativity, use of ingredients, taste, presentation, hygiene and sanitation. Crystal Smith emerged champion chef after preparing Pan Fried Pork Chops with Yam Balls and Sautéed Vegetables.

Through the Nestlé Needs Youth and the YOCUTA programme, Nestlé Jamaica is committed to training future generations in the culinary world, to training better chefs and facilitating experiences to guarantee better job opportunities.

The YOCUTA programme, which kicked off in tandem with the 2019 internship programme, Nestlé Needs YOUth, is real-world preparation of young culinary students through theoretical and practical cooking experience that acclimatises them for work in the hospitality industry. The objective of the programme is to develop culinary skills, knowledge, best practices and new trends via a full curriculum over the six-week period.

 


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