"All good things must come to an end, and we're at the grand finale of Applaud It! 2023. We're at Seprod, must be good!" — Jamaica Observer Senior Associate Editor - Lifestyle & Social Content and Applaud It! conceptualiser Novia McDonald-Whyte
The Jamaica Observer Applaud It! 2023 series wrapped on Monday, November 20 as it started a week ago: With the next generation relishing an exquisite three-course lunch prepared by multi-award-winning Chef Jacqui Tyson.
A group of 12 grade five students from the Edward Seaga Primary and Infant School (formerly Denham Town Primary) were hosted by Seprod Group Marketing Manager Debbiann Spence-Minott and Promotions Manager Chrisette Gayle in the company's boardroom at 3 Felix Fox Boulevard, Kingston.
"Hi, students, how are you?" asked McDonald-Whyte.
"Fine, thank you, and how are you?" responded the students in unison.
"I'm good, thank you very much.
"This programme is called Applaud It!. So during the course of this afternoon, there'll be lots of reasons to applaud. We'll be focusing on the art of fine dining with an industry leader who's at the top of her field, notably, Dr Debbian Spence-Minott. She's a marketing guru, and we're honoured to have her at the table. She's meeting you exactly where you are. So we want you, in between courses, to engage her. Ask her questions about Seprod, what her job entails, because I'm sure some of you here would want to one day work alongside her, or even take over from her," said McDonald-Whyte.
After introducing themselves and sharing their favourite subjects and respective talents, Chef Jacqui Tyson joined the group to introduce the menu offerings. "Welcome to Seprod's boardroom, and to Applaud It!. It is an honour for my team and I to be of service to you today... it's going to be a great experience. There are gems to be learned today. So, for the first course, we wanted to honour the creamy goodness of Serge [a Seprod product] with our Creme de la Creme, a light cream of pumpkin soup," Tyson said.
Cue a lesson in soup eating by McDonald-Whyte. The adept group began spooning away, as McDonald-Whyte demonstrated how to discreetly wipe the spoon on the side of the bowl along the inside of the rim. The 'break, butter, eat' lesson ensued as the students tucked into their dinner rolls.
During the palate cleanser — a mango passion granite made with Delite fruit juices — Principal Shernet Clarke-Tomlinson, who is herself a past student of the school, engaged McDonald-Whyte. "The grade four to six students get the Jamaica Observer. The content in the Learning Corner aligns with our curriculum, and the students use it to do their work," she shared.
The entrée was up next, and so was the plot twist.
The eager students, though ready to show off their knife and fork skills, quickly learned how to eat pasta using a fork and spoon. After a few pointers, the students and adults twirled their way through chef Tyson's Oodles 'of Noodles — linguine pasta tossed in a light parmesan cream with fresh vegetables, topped with jumbo shrimp or chicken.
The meal ended on a decidedly decadent note, with fresh fruit-topped cheesecake, finished with a berry coulis.
"On behalf of the Jamaica Observer, where educating our nation is top-of-mind. We'd like to applaud you, Mrs Shernet Clarke-Tomlinson. What you have done with the students, from what we have seen, is absolutely fantastic! The fact that you were once a student [at this very school] and returned to give back is commendable. That's what Applaud It! is about: Giving back... We have to lift this generation, we have to show them the possibilities and that they, too, can achieve success," said McDonald-Whyte.
The grateful students elected Tandiesha Coultman to express gratitude on their behalf. "On behalf of the Edward Seaga Primary School, I'd like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Seprod, the Jamaica Observer and other stakeholders for offering us this experience. A big thank you for teaching us about fine dining," she said.
"Next year we'll be back, bigger and better," said McDonald-Whyte as she formally wrapped the 2023 series.