Table Talk Food Awards Launched
All eyes were on culinary artist Oji Jaja as he introduced the menu. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)

"This is about livelihoods, being nominated, copping an award. Businesses flourish as a result of the Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards," said Sagicor Group Vice-President for Group Marketing Alysia Moulton White in her remarks at the launch of the 23rd annual Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards, held Thursday last in the executive boardroom of the media group.

The statement came on the heels of Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) Executive Director Dr Carey Wallace declaring the awards "the most outstanding gastronomy event for the calendar, hands down", while underscoring the positive ripple economic effect of the event. "Restaurants get busier, the beauty and fashion industries benefit from the event as well, so that's how we see it all being bolstered, year after year, getting better and better. So while we have 4.2 million [people] coming for sun, sea, and sand, we'll have another 2 or 4 million coming for gastronomy... and so we invest heavily in the Food Awards," he commented.

These sentiments were echoed by event conceptualiser and chair Novia McDonald-Whyte, who officially opened the proceedings. "When we're sitting down and enjoying our Rolls Royce of fish: sea bass...we are beautifully dressed, sipping on Champagne... so it's a package, it's a business. Because once you lift the food industry, you lift everything else," she remarked.

McDonald-Whyte went on to welcome new sponsor Mastercard, while lauding TEF, Tourism Linkages Network, Sagicor, The Best Dressed Chicken, Johnnie Walker, Red Stripe, Heineken, Tastee, Brew'd Awakenings, Bounty, Main Event, Wata, Frigidaire, Digicel Business, Rainforest Caribbean, Aperol Spritz, and Island Car Rentals for their continued support of the region's most-anticipated annual culinary event.

"Last year was a challenge [the result of the novel coronavirus pandemic]. We managed, however, to continue our support of UTech students with scholarships... this year we continue," said McDonald-Whyte. Four full scholarships and two bursarsaries will be presented to six final-year UTech students of The School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. Meanwhile, the Food Awards chair will afford, for the second consecutive year a student the Novia McDonald-Whyte scholarship. At the same time Jamaica Observer Limited Deputy Managing Director Natalie Chin implored those at the table to follow suit and support the scholarship initiative. "I encourage your companies or individually, if you can, to help," she put forth.

The launch brunch culminated with a toast to the power of gastronomy and with the announcement of Debra Taylor-Smith, Select Brands Luxury Portfolio Manager and longtime supporter of the event, as the 2022 recipient of the Chairman's Award, while Cal's Manufacturing Ltd, represented at the event by director Lisa Watson, was named the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Brunch duties were efficiently handled by culinary artist Oji Jaja and multi-award-winning pastry chef Nadine Burie. The brunch menu, a perfect complement to the affair, commenced with a seasonal marinated fruit bowl with Greek yogurt; and continued with slithers of chicken atop poached eggs and waffles, drizzled with Scotch Bonnet Rosemary syrup; Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee; assorted teas, and the quintessential brunch cocktail: Mimosa.

Nadine Burie's Citrus Lover Tart, made with hazelnut biscuit, passion fruit coulis with a duo of creams — lemon and lime mint-infused and tangerine/orange cream — topped with italienne meringue and grapefruits lived up to its billing while the Cavicchioli 1928 Prosecco-infused mimosa ensured a memorable launch.

The 23rd staging of the Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards takes place on Thursday, September 29 at the historical Devon House. Start time is 6:30pm

Nadine Burie placed Likkle More branded chocolate — an event memento — at each place setting. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)
After announcing Select Brands Luxury Portfolio Manager Debra Taylor-Smith (second left) and Cal's Manufacturing Ltd director Lisa Watson (right) as recipients of the Chairman and Lifetime Achievement awards, respectively, The Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards conceptualiser Novia McDonald-Whyte joined Jamaica Observer Limited Managing Director Julian Rogers to toast the women. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)
Chicken, poached eggs & waffles with mango, garnished with mint (Photo: Garfield Robinson)
Scotch Bonnet Rosemary syrup poured over chicken, poached eggs and waffles (Photo: Garfield Robinson)
A capture of the chicken, poached eggs and waffles was a must! (Photo: Garfield Robinson)
A guest cut into the chicken, poached eggs & waffles. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)
Wisynco Group Marketing Manager Karen Baugh and Digicel Head of Public Relations Elon Parkinson relished the chicken, poached eggs and waffles. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)
Likkle More chocolate — made with Jamaican cocoa, artisan milk chocolate, hazelnut praline, hazelnut pieces and sesame seed cookies (Photo: Garfield Robinson)
Chicken, beet cured salmon & waffles with a mango salsa (Photo: Garfield Robinson)
Derrimon Trading Company Chief Marketing Officer Kim Lee was all smiles as she enjoyed the chicken, beet cured salmon & waffles. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)
Cavicchioli 1928 Prosecco-infused mimosas, served by Debbie Dandie. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)
The strawberry coulis was poured into a bowl of pineapples, red and green grapes and blueberries.(Photo: Garfield Robinson)
With award-winning pastry chef Nadine Burie on dessert duty guests were in for a sweet treat with her Citrus Lover Tart. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)
Food Awards 2022 logo.
Chef Oji Jaja added the finishing touches to the Seasonal Marinated Fruit Bowl with Greek Yogurt. Garfield Robinson

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