NASSAU, The Bahamas – The top 3 finalists (juniors and seniors) in the New Providence district phase of the 31st Bahamas Young Chef Culinary Competition along with National Round participants from the Family Islands got the opportunity to learn first-hand from top renowned chefs during the 7th Annual Bahamas Young Chef Culinary Conference.
The two-day conference, which includes workshops, food demonstrations and a competition, officially opened Monday, November 13, 2023 at the University of The Bahamas, College of Tourism, Hospitality, Culinary Arts and Leisure Management. The annual event is hosted by the Department of Education in conjunction with Asa H. Pritchard/Mahatma Rice and Robin Hood Flour, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), Baha Mar Resort and the University of The Bahamas. The theme for the conference is “Celebrating Our Jubilee: Bahamian Cuisine…Our Flavour Profile, Our Food Culture, Our Identity.”
During the opening ceremony held at Choices Restaurant, Acting Deputy Director of Education Terrice Carey-Curry, on behalf of the Ministry of Education and Technical and Vocational Training, commended all of the stakeholders (judges, teachers, parents, sponsors, organizers) for the sacrifices they have made during the past 31 years.
“The Ministry is committed to supporting this vital initiative. We wish to commend you for the years that have been given to ensure its stability,” said Mrs. Carey-Curry, Senior Education Officer Patrice Green encouraged the Family and Consumer Science students to think about back to basics, farm-to-table, growing foods to ensure food sovereignty and food security.
Raquel Turnquest, Education Officer, Family and Consumer Science Education Unit emphasized the need to preserve the nation’s food culture for the future and indicated that was predominantly why the theme for 2023 was chosen.
She said, “We have to think enough about ourselves to document what is ours and what makes us Bahamian … the way chicken souse is prepared, the way Johnny Cake is prepared, the turnover bread, the flour cake.
“We see other countries exporting food items here to our country. We can buy spice buns here in our food stores however our children cannot buy flour cake in our food stores. That is an opportunity for up-and-coming chefs like you. You are our future. You are the ones who will decide what I call ‘import substitution.’ ”
She said it is “extremely” important for Bahamian cooking methods, the ingredients grown and utilized on a regular basis in all meals, the way traditional peas and rice and conch salad are prepared — all of these things need to be documented.”
A culinary team of executive and celebrity chefs from Baha Mar led demonstration sessions on the first day. Topics included Chicken Fabrication and Chicken Shawarma by Chef Basil Dean and Chef Jessica Morales; and Lobster Curry with lemon Rice and Plantain Chips by Chef Rabi Singh and Cecilia Williams.
Day two was supported by Elizabeth A. Wunderlich, Caribbean Manager, USMEF. Chefs including Chef Jamal Small and Chef Joel Johnson led demonstrations using U.S. beef and pork.
In the afternoon session USMEF sponsored a Signature Dish Challenge for senior students using Meats by Linz Beef Bottom Sirloin Boneless Tri-Tip and junior students utilizing VandeRose boneless pork loin. U.S. beef and pork.