Culinary Talent Showcased
Five former and present hospitality studies trainees of the University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI) displayed their culinary aptitude on Wednesday, 17 December 2014.
Taking part in a cook-off in the kitchen of the world-famous Blue restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton, all five maintained their composure, although it was Desly Kyshon Missick and Zack Myrie who advanced to the finals, which will be held in January 2015.
Contestants were required to use all ingredients in a mystery basket, including: a whole fresh snapper, green plantain, breadfruit, fresh coconut, pumpkin, papaya and Pickapeppa sauce.
As the competition was organised by the Governor's Office and sponsored by the Ritz, Her Excellency the Governor, Helen Kilpatrick, Ritz-Carlton Executive Chef Frederic Morineau, and Head of the Governor's Office Gary Benham served as judges.
Competitors' dishes were assessed on taste, originality, creativity and work-station organisation, Chef Frederic explained. Ensuring the competition ran smoothly were Blue Restaurant Chef de Cuisine Thomas Seifried and Ritz-Carlton Culinary Analyst Jolene Nelson.
For his winning dish, Zack made seared snapper with papaya salsa dressed with coconut and the Pickapeppa sauce; pumpkin puree; as well as boiled green plantain and fried breadfruit strips. Desly produced pan seared snapper with breadfruit and green banana mash, topped with green papaya and shaved coconut, and a pumpkin salad that was seasoned with the sauce, salt and pepper.
All contestants received the recipe book, Avec Eric, by celebrated chef Eric Ripert, the owner/developer of The Blue. More importantly, they received a valuable lesson in working in a top kitchen and getting their work critiqued.
The panel assured remaining competitors Anastascio Menna Hebert, Jykalli Swaby and Stevyn Lyncy that they have promising futures ahead of them.
All five young people are employed in local restaurants: Desly at Ortanique, Zack and Anastascio at the Bistro, and Jykalli and Stevyn at the Beach Suites.
"This contest was created to draw attention to young, Caymanian culinary talent. It also demonstrates that attending the University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI) hospitality school provides young Caymanians with valuable opportunities in the local hospitality industry," the Governor said.
The top prize, which will be announced at a British Airways Gala Dinner at Government House, includes an opportunity to work alongside a top chef for a week in a leading restaurant, she added.
First, the two finalists will participate in a further culinary duel on Wednesday, 14 January 2015, where they will be judged by Chef Frederic and British celebrity chef Adam Handling.
Mr. Handling, aged 26, is one of the youngest culinary stars of the United Kingdom (UK), having been a Master Chef UK finalist and the 2014 British Culinary Federation Chef of the Year. In addition to judging the student competition, Mr. Handling will also participate in the annual Cayman Cook-Out.
Mr. Benham commented that the aim is to introduce top British culinary talent to the Cayman Cookout and to make the student cook-off an annual event.
UCCI School of Hospitality Studies Director, Mr. Wayne Jackson, and Senior Lecturer in Tourism and Hospitality Studies, Ms Tanique Dunbar attended the competition.
The school's internship-based certificate programme allows students to be supervised by professionals in local work settings. Both were delighted by the opportunity to highlight the skills of their students working in this highly competitive yet rewarding area.
The school, which currently has 25 students in the one year programme, is working to offer a two-year programme and ultimately a full-fledged degree programme, the Director said. "In the next few years, we will have school alumni represented in most hotels, resorts and restaurants in the Cayman Islands," he emphasised.
In addition, the school is planning to start a similar in-house competition early next year, he added.
For further information contact: Bina Mani