Scores of patrons turned out August 1, Emancipation Day, at the Catherine Hall Entertainment Centre, for the long-awaited return of the MoBay Jerk & Food Festival after a two-year hiatus due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The food-rich event saw over 30 food vendors participating, and among the features the hotly contested The Best Dressed Chicken Jerk Chicken Competition.
The competitors are judged on delivering the best jerk chicken in categories including taste, texture, jerk sauce, seasoning profile and smoky flavour as brought on by the type of woods used such as pimento and sweetwood. Judges comprised chefs, The Best Dressed Chicken representatives and patrons at the event.
After a satisfying but gruelling three-hour process which included moving from each participating booth, sampling the offerings, discussing with cooks their jerk process, finer details of each sample and tallying points, the judges made their decision.
When the smoke cleared it was sweet revenge for Jerk Tribe, as they walked away with the coveted prize after narrowly finishing second in the 2019 staging.
Camoy Cooke, co-owner of Jerk Tribe, expressed that they came extra-prepared after feeling the sting of a narrow second placing last time.
"We decided to come out even stronger this year. We are always big on presentation with bold flavours and taste; on that we know we are extra strong. What we did was tweak the sauce, which is made from scratch in-house with our own secret recipe. We are happy we were able to win and we are looking forward to defending our title next year," Cooke stated.
Through the competition Best Dressed Chicken has donated chicken, cash prizes and jerk pans to assist the purveyors in building their businesses.
"The Best Dressed Chicken has been sponsoring the MoBay Jerk & Food Festival Jerk Chicken Competition since the inception of the event and we are happy to inspire the different chefs in getting creative each year in delivering better quality jerk. Through the competition we're also getting the opportunity to assist in building growth among entrepreneurs through cash prizes, products and equipment," stated Lincoln Robinson, marketing and sales officer, The Best Dressed Chicken.
The festival celebrated its 11th staging and also included family fun day activities with Kiddies' Village, rides, bounce-abouts, clowns and segued into live performances by gospel artistes and top-flight dancehall artistes.
â€” Text & photos by Aceion Cunningham