VIDEO: Rising Stars

VIDEO: Rising Stars

Jonathan Grant's Culinary Explosion

Thursday, March 14, 2019

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On February 27, Jonathan Grant High School hosted its second Culinary Explosion on the school's grounds. The event was conceptualised to introduce the students to career opportunities that exist within the culinary arts field. Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards awardee Executive Chef George Matthews is both an alumnus of Jonathan Grant and one of the event's conceptualisers. For Chef Matthews, the home economics curriculum isn't enough to expose the students to the skills needed to embark on culinary arts careers. Cue: Culinary Explosion.

The day's main events were the team and individual cooking competitions. There were also cooking, cake-decorating and fruit-carving demonstrations. For the team event, each group was tasked with creating a meal using fish as the protein. The student chefs worked together to create complete meals that incorporated innovative uses of local ingredients such as ground provisions and plantains. The winning team — Shanniel Phillips, Aaliyah Palmer, Ariana Smith, Saffiya Menzie, and Danielle Bennett — created a mouth-watering brown stew fish with pumpkin rice. For their prize, the students received gift baskets courtesy of Best Dressed Foods, and Cal's.

The individual competition saw Marvin Tuirell, Shavonnie Pitt, Taneil Swaby, and Kyle Wint battling to see who could prepare the tastiest chicken dish. From curry to breaded cutlets, the students showed good knife skills and an understanding of flavour. Spectators were convinced that Kyle Wint, with his breaded fried chicken cutlet, served alongside seasoned yellow rice and steamed vegetables, would emerge the winner. Wint was cool under pressure, kept a pristine station and was methodical in his approach. He will make an excellent chef one day. However, the dish of chicken in tomato sauce, ackee-potato mash, and steamed vegetables by Shavonnie Pitt was the winner. Pitt was overcome with emotion and was celebrated by her fellow competitors, who displayed admirable sportsmanship. Along with a chef's knife and apron, Pitt walked away with a scholarship to the HEART College of Hospitality Services to complete any Level II programme.

During the time spent at Jonathan Grant High School, it became clear to Thursday Food that there are passionate members of staff and alumni who want to see the students excel. However, developing the school's culinary programme, through initiatives like the Culinary Explosion, is imperative to inspire the students and expose them to the numerous opportunities that exist within culinary arts. Because there are a number of talented future chefs there.

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