Blue Skies Beach Resort is a realised dream for former US civil rights attorney Dana Kurtz, and through this vehicle she hopes to drive the dreams of aspiring Jamaican chefs and bring more awareness from international eyes to Jamaican cuisines.
The property on Norman Manley Boulevard in Negril welcomed its first guests last year and Kurtz has hopes to create a space for enjoying food, skydiving, music, movies and all things fun that can be done on the beach.
“I visited Jamaica 20 years ago and fell in love with the island. Fast-forward to today and I'm living my dream with big plans for the future. One of the things I want to do is bring international chefs and cooking competitions here. Jamaica is already on the international map but we would like to do more fusion events. An international 'Jerk-Off' competition with chefs jerking whatever you want from calamari, tofu, chicken, pork, and chefs determining the best in categories. We plan on bringing international chefs to interact with Jamaican chefs and give experiences in other cuisines to develop this fusion. Our chefs can in turn add a Jamaican mix by using local foods and fruits that are plentiful on the island to give our own twist,” Kurtz explained.
“We are big on developing talent. Our team members come to us straight from culinary school, but our resident chef has over 30 years of experience, and we encourage all to experiment and share knowledge. We are looking to bring in other local chefs for them to gain additional experience and training which they may not have got otherwise from just schooling. Jamaican food is amazing and we plan on being an international food hub exposing guests to foods and fruits that they wouldn't necessarily know about,” Kurtz added.
“All our food is locally sourced from all over the island; we are going for farm-to-table freshness. We will be growing food on property, especially spices, and produce in-house sauces made from scratch,” Kurtz added.
Blue Skies lead chef Sanika Clarke is a past student of the University of Technology of Jamaica (UTech) and her interest is in developing fusion dishes, especially Jamaican and Italian. Clarke also has an affinity for vegan dishes.
“Normally, with vegan stew it's mainly beans, but what I do is add ground provisions such as dasheen, yams, cocoa, green plantains and cook it in coconut milk cream. For the crayfish soup we make that from scratch using carrot, onions, celery, scallion and thyme. Scotch bonnet pepper and puréed pumpkin are added to the mix, and of course butter and the crayfish,” Clarke explained.
— Text & photos: Aceion Cunningham