Dinner on the Beach @ Rockhouse
Décor for Rockhouse Foundation's Dinner on the Beach at Skylark Resort in Negril. (Photo: Aceion Cunningham)

The Rockhouse Foundation served up the latest edition of its highly anticipated fund-raising initiative, 'Dinner on the Beach', on Wednesday, December 28, 2022, with guest chef Nyesha Arrington from Top Chef, Chef Hunter, and Chopped Next Gen fame. The event was hosted by Chef Andre Fowles of Miss Lily's Restaurant at Skylark Resort in Negril.

Arrington explained that the evening's courses were influenced by her style and background. Describing her style as having fun textural elements, fresh, light, and bright and heavily influenced by her classic French fine dining background.

"I come from a classic French fine dining background, which is kinda bougie but I'm more rustic elegant, and that will be reflected in the menu. It's very honest, authentic, straightforward, beautiful cuisine to be enjoyed against the beautiful backdrop of Jamaica," Arrington said.

During the cocktail hour guests were treated to passed canapés consisting of spiny lobster with carrot turmeric soup, oxtail toast, and crispy okra fries. The first course was red snapper crudo with crispy rice and peas salad, Scotch bonnet pepper and mango vinaigrette.

The second course included braised goat with ginger, tamarind, sweet potato polenta and greens. Chef Arrington explained that special use was made of the sweet potatoes and the greens including butter lettuce and the peppery arugula used to accent the goat. The greens now utilised by Rockhouse and Skylark are grown specifically for the resorts through their new hydroponics farm. The final course of dessert was caramelised plantains with coconut tapioca pudding, sugarcane and pepita seeds.

"Nothing is ever forsaken on the plate; there's a lot of intentionality that goes into the entire journey and the inspiration for the dessert came from the terroir of the land and specifically the sugarcane. The sugarcane on top of the dessert is spiked with dark rum, hot molasses syrup also derived from the sugarcane. It has the vibe of a fancy crème caramel but it's also gluten- and dairy-free with temperature variations but more so delicious, just to hug your soul and round out the experience for the evening," Arrington explained.

"When I landed here my soul felt at peace. It's an unexplainable energy, it feels so authentic, real and love. It was almost easy to create this menu; being here in Jamaica it spoke to me. I was able to celebrate what the land is giving. I was able to use produce and have it picked the day before, watch the snapper being snatched from the ocean and on the plate within a day. It's actually incredible and an experience of a lifetime," Arrington added.

Paul Salmon, chairman for Rockhouse, stated that the dinner was able to raise US$30,000.00 which will go towards the foundation's initiatives including the Sav Inclusive School. The institution's inclusion model has helped to transform the lives of children with disabilities by exposing them to educational, speech and physical therapies.

— Text & photos by Aceion Cunningham

From left: Ian Bro with his girlfriend Emma Simel, brother-in-law Nick Simel and mother-in-law Jennifer Vecchio in from New York (Photo: Aceion Cunningham)
Crispy okra fries with callaloo aioli (Photo: Aceion Cunningham)
Fabian Scarlett (left) and Tiffany Albright (second left), principals of Tiki Pon De Sea, shared a snap with Paula and Gregory Such from California. (Photo: Aceion Cunningham)
Spiny lobster with carrot turmeric soup (Photo: Aceion Cunningham)
The always-present Gareth Cobran, cinematographer, was on hand to capture all things Rockhouse and Skylark. (Photo: Aceion Cunningham)
Chef Nyesha Arrington posed in front of the distinctive branding of her Rockhouse poster. (Photo: Aceion Cunningham)
American actress Tasha Smith (left) and her writer and producer twin sister Sidra Smith (Photo: Aceion Cunningham)
Chef Nyesha Arrington (right) detailed the inspiration behind the evening's menu while Paul Salmon, chairman, Rockhouse, spoke on the fund-raising aspect of the evening. (Photo: Aceion Cunningham)
Guests enjoying cocktail hour ahead of dinner. (Photo: Aceion Cunningham)
From left: David Smith, coastal engineer; Andre Fowles, culinary director, Miss Lily's; and Chef Danya SmithAceion Cunningham
From left: Chef James Robinson, principal, Elevate Nightclub & Lounge; Jasmine Pierce, publicist; Max Glazer, partner, Skylark Resort; and Chef Adam Schop.Aceion Cunningham
Chef Nyesha Arrington adds the final touches to the evening's first course of red snapper crudo with crispy rice and peas salad, Scotch bonnet pepper and mango vinaigrette.Aceion Cunningham
Red snapper crudo with crispy rice and peas salad, Scotch bonnet pepper and mango vinaigrette.Aceion Cunningham
Vegetables for the evening were from the hydroponics farm as part of the resort's sustainable tourism initiatives.Aceion Cunningham
Braised goat with ginger, tamarind, sweet potato polenta and greensAceion Cunningham
Caramelised plantains with coconut tapioca pudding, sugarcane and pepita seedsAceion Cunningham
Guests enjoying the food and ambiance.Aceion Cunningham
Max Glazer, partner, Skylark, displaying his other talent of deejaying (think: Federation Sound) during the after-dinner party.Aceion Cunningham
Nikki Cosby (left), Rockhouse board member, and Thelma Golden, in from Harlem, New YorkAceion Cunningham

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