Chairman's Award: Stephanie Scott Founder, Restaurant WeekThursday, July 15, 2021
No one who knew Stephanie Scott will ever forget her.
As a teenager and the eldest child of a single working mother, I was given the household chore of grocery shopping. Each week I would head to Welcome Supermarket in Liguanea and I would see this elegant 40-something woman strolling the shopping aisles. It wasn't hard to notice Stephanie with her then-look of dark defined eyebrows, striking salt and pepper hair that hung long down her back and her raspy voice that went at the speed of light!
I would zip in and out of the supermarket, but Stephanie's shop always took a lot longer, not because of her consumption, but because she would talk to friends non-stop while shopping. These conversations seemed as intense as they looked fun-filled and by the time Stephanie reached the check-out there was yet another round of banter between herself, the management and all of the staff, from baggers to the cashiers. From a distance I could tell that there was something special about this lady that set her apart from the rest.
Years later when I actually met Stephanie through her son, my then boyfriend, and now husband, I was able to understand what her true gifts were. She was loving and funny, caring and helpful, doting and giving. What you saw was what you got with Stephanie and there were no airs or pretences about her.
Stephanie's appetite for learning was insatiable. Her early years were spent as a Montessori teacher, not only encouraging her own children to strive for the best, but the children that she taught while living abroad in Honduras, Clearwater, Miami and back here in Jamaica while teaching at Building Blocks. When she wanted a change of pace from teaching, Stephanie went into event co-ordination, a skillset that came naturally, as she was by far the most organised person one could ever meet. Personal circumstances in her life ensued and she was forced to take event co-ordination a step further, and at 50 years old she reinvented herself with the beginnings of a brand known as “Kingston Restaurant Week”. This was a big step for a woman who wasn't a big fan of the limelight.
Restaurants were popping up slowly throughout Kingston, as the concept of modern-day dining out was growing. An idea was planted in Stephanie's head of making an event of dining out, just as seen in other major cities across the world, and in true Stephanie style, she took that idea and ran with it. Kingston Restaurant Week was soon just Restaurant Week, an annual islandwide celebration of food and camaraderie with over 100 participating restaurants and a heavily driven marketing and advertising promotion for months leading up to the week. Sponsors, restaurateurs and patrons looked forward to the energy and excitement that Stephanie and her SSCO Event Management team brought to the industry each year.
By 2019, Stephanie had staged 15 successful Restaurant Weeks and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Stephanie was also facing some health challenges which called into question the future of her association with Restaurant Week. Stephanie was resolute and, like she had done at other times in her life, she knew it was time to close the chapter. There were negotiations up until the time of her passing, but Stephanie died knowing that the brand that she built would live on through her best friend and one of her earliest sponsorship supporters, Debra Taylor.
I salute my mother-in-law for being such a trailblazer. Stephanie's legacy lives on and on behalf of her entire family we thank the Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards Committee and its chair Novia McDonald-Whyte for bestowing this wonderful award celebrating her hard work and contribution to the food industry.
— Kaili McDonnough Scott
Join us this evening @ 7:00 pm as we applaud Stephanie Scott https://bit.ly/foodawardsapplaud
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login