NEGRIL, Westmoreland — Several people turned out over the weekend at Charela Inn in Negril for an evening of Jamaican cuisine mixed with performances from various music artistes.
The event — CABARET 2023 — saw performances from Della Manley, Robin Banks, and Cheryle Williams while enjoying a five-course meal prepared by renowned Chef Andre Sewell.
Daniel Grizzle, managing director of Charela Inn, said the event was aimed at highlighting Jamaican cuisine and music talents to both guests and locals.
"We want to do something different. There is no point in all of us doing the same thing every week and every day. You need to add variety into what you are presenting," said Grizzle, who added: "All the musicians are Jamaicans from around here — Westmoreland and Hanover."
He noted that while the turnout event and reception went well, he was a bit disappointed with the number of locals who turned out.
"My little regret is that we didn't manage to attract much locals. I like to have a nice mixture of our local people here. It makes me feel better," said Grizzle.
He noted that while some Jamaicans may say they don't feel welcome in hotels, this is a thing of the past.
"I don't think there is anywhere in Jamaica that doesn't welcome Jamaicans wholeheartedly. I am a Jamaican, I am black and I like to see people like me in the dining room too, not that I don't appreciate others," said Grizzle, a former president of the Negril Chamber of Commerce.
Grizzle said plans are in place for another event this Easter Saturday. He noted that while the artist has not been settled on as yet, the hope is to have Andre returned. He said efforts will be me to attract more locals this time around.
"I don't think Jamaica has fully appreciated the quality of our young chefs over the last coming years that Jamaica has produced and we are sometimes the last people to give praise to ourselves and I don't believe in that," said Grizzle.
The weekend event was Chef Andre's second guest presentation at Negril-based property. The self-taught chef, who is looking forward to this Easter, shares similar views to that of Grizzle where the promotion of local dishes and ingredients is concerned.
"I feel like I have discovered a new purpose in recent times and that is, I want to elevate the Jamaican cuisine. I want to elevate not only the dishes that we hand out, but the ingredients because I believe that they are underutilised and so, I have a passion for utilising our ingredients and elevating our dishes while still respecting the traditional dishes," Sewell told the Observer.
Sewell, who is originally trained in IT, currently works behind the scenes with most food companies developing recipes, testing products and shooting content. He also does online training.
The over-40-year-old property currently has some 49 rooms.