“Driving innovation is what gives us a competitive advantage,” said Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett at Thursday's launch of the 2021 iteration of the Jamaica Food and Drink Festival (JFDF).
At the behest of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the festival's organisers had to reshape this year's staging. Unable to host thousands of patrons sampling fare from numerous chefs, JFDF 2021 has metamorphosed into the Jamaica Food and Drink Kitchen — a first-rate, multi-purpose cooking studio and event space in Progressive Plaza, 24-28 Barbican Road, Kingston.
Running from Wednesday, November 24 to Sunday, December 5, the festival, dubbed JFDF In D' Kitchen, will offer patrons 24 experiences from which to choose. The event series will encompass cooking and cocktail seminars; interactive nights out; cooking classes for children; and Sunday brunches, which have been highlights of the festival since its inception. Tickets to each event are presold only and available through the event's website — www.jafoodanddrink.com.
JFDF Project Manager Nicole Pandohie emphasised that pandemic protocols will be observed, including in the outdoor spaces. Classes and seminars are capped at 20 participants; the brunches and interactive nights out at 50. All patrons must be fully vaccinated by November 9 to participate in this year's event. To be admitted, patrons must show vaccination cards along with digital proof of ticket purchase.
After the culmination of JFDF 2021, the Jamaica Food and Drink Kitchen will open for general business. Upfront is a Made In Jamaica gourmet store stocked with kitchen items and the best meat, tea, confectionery, condiments, ready-to-cook products, and craft beer from local artisans. And there is an ample selection of wine and spirits from supplier Select Brands.
The kitchen will also host numerous cooking and baking courses during the daytime and evening and food experiences. The December programme calendar is on the JFDF website. Some classes are already sold-out. As with the festival's main event line-up, tickets to the kitchen's seminars and experiences must be prepaid online. The public can also book the space for corporate team-building events, private functions, filming, and culinary photo shoots.
Several sponsors and stakeholders invested in the realisation of JFDF 2021 and the Jamaica Food and Drink Kitchen. They include Visa, CB Foods, The Tourism Enhancement Fund, Tourism Linkages Network, ATL, Tile City, Kohler, National, the Jamaica Tourist Board, Grace, Sagicor Investments, Appleton Estate, Butcher Block, Mystique Integrated, Heineken, Rainforest Foods, Digicel, Copperwood, Johnnie Walker, and the Jamaica Observer.
The JFDF is in its seventh year and has been nominated for the 2021 Caribbean's Best Culinary Festival Award by the World Culinary Awards. The winner will be announced on November 30.