How was Picante for Jamaica Food & Drink Festival?!

Picante is the event on the Jamaica Food and Drink Festival (JFDF) roster that takes you through a world of hot, zesty flavours.

It was held last Friday night at The Ruins, Mona Visitors’ Lodge from 7-11pm.

Suga arrived early, at about 7:20pm to beat the lines and made her rounds.

Coca Cola had tasty cocktails upon entry. They had a creamy cocktail that suited the ladies and a White Rum mix that the gentlemen like my husband, Randy enjoyed.

Select Brands had sweet wines to cool down the spice and a refreshing Stoli Blueberi Lemonade that was the talk of many patrons for the night.

By the entrance, there was National’s Scotch Bonnet Butter Cheddar Popcorn stand with Popcorn bags by Chef Christian Sweeney. It was finished in no time. As usual, he created delightful bites to please the crowd.

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Chef Sweeney also had a menu of Spicy Chicken with Grilled Corn and Chick Peas Salsa. Thankfully it tasted better than it looked. Congrats Chef Sweeney, it was Picante. For those who returned later in the night like myself, Pan-seared Tuna was served instead of the Chicken with the Chick Peas Salsa and it was just as delightful.

Chef Shea Stewart had a menu of spiced Snapper with a Jalapeño, Chili and Scotch Bonnet infused Risotto, however the outcome was mild. The presentation was poor, but it was quite tasty nonetheless.

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Chef Shea Stewart’s Spiced Snapper en Papillote with Scotch Bonnet Butter served with Jalepeño and Chili Pepper infused Risotto Scotch Bonnet.

Chef Dennis McIntosh did a tasty seafood dish, but it was mild as well.

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Chef Dennis McIntosh’s spicy Caribbean Seafood Au Gratin.

Broken Plate’s dish was delicious and flavourful with a touch of spice, but I was still waiting on another dish to make me say, ‘Picante!’.

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Broken Plate’s Mustard Chili Pesto Rubbed Pork Loin with Crispy Bacon Orzo Pilaf topped with Asian mixed greens and Arugula Salad

Disappointing booths for the Night

Before I get to outstanding booths for the night, the majority of Chefs produced impressive dishes. However, there were two disappointing dishes for me. One was definitely worse than the other.

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The Cliff Hotel’s Chef Jonhoi Reid’s Mojo Braised Pork topped with Crispy Pork Belly with Black Bean Corn Yuca Cake, Smoked Scotch Bonnet Salsa Verde, Jalapeño Pico de Gallo and Cilantro Crema.

Chef Jonhoi Reid from the renowned Cliff Hotel in Negril was very personable, but had a sloppy display with Pork that was difficult to chew. I was excited to see Pork stacked on Pork, but the outcome was disappointing. The Black Bean Corn Yuca Cake didn’t save the dish for me, but was quite palatable beneath it all.

I observed that they were serving persons up to 11:20pm, when most Chefs left or packed up. Having so much food left may underscore my thoughts.

Then there was Walkerswood featuring Guest Chef from overseas, Patrick Simpson and UTECH. Sad to say, but it was the worst of the night. The Peppa Shrimp with Curried Vegetable Succotash was spicy a.k.a Picante, but the Pulled Jerk Chicken was terrible. Perhaps, Chef Simpson is unfamiliar with Jamaican sauces, but that sauce did not complement the Pulled Jerk Chicken well at all. It wasn’t spicy and it overpowered it completely.

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Walkerswood featuring Chef Patrick Simpson and UTECH’s Grilled Peppa Shrimps with Curried Vegetable Succotash (Top); Pulled Jerk Chicken on Bammy Round with Pickle Escallion Relish (below); Solomon Gundy Crostini topped with Roasted Corn and Tomato

Winners of the Night for Suga!

Suga had an overall winner, but there wasn’t only one winner for me, there were five Chefs who absolutely brought it to Picante!

Oji Jaja! Best Shrimp of the Night 

Chef Oji Jaja had Seared Scallops, but the hit with most patrons was the Seared Shrimp with roasted pepper Scotch Bonnet sauce and Micro Basil. It wasn’t spicy, but was the best Shrimp of the night for Suga.

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Chef Oji Jaja’s Seared Shrimp with roasted pepper Scotch Bonnet sauce and Micro Basil

Spiciest dish of the Night!

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The spiciest dish of the night hands down went to Chef George Matthews of Summertime Villa (Silver Sands, Trelawny; also cooks at Tryall). I couldn’t even say or scream Picante. My running eyes and nose said it all. Mission accomplished Chef Matthews.

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Chef George Matthews’ Thai Chili Shrimp with Breadfruit poppers.

Culinary Showman of the Night

Chef Mark Cole from The Jamaica Pegasus cooked with a lot of flare, literally. He cooked two dishes, including a stuffed spicy Potato, but he had one of the two longest lines of the night for his Picante style Salmon Hash. It’s jalapeno salsa made you say, Picante and it was delish! Bravo.

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Chef Mark Cole of The Jamaica Pegasus being quite a showman at Picante last Friday night.

Chef Mark Cole’s Menu:

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The Best Dish at Picante

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The other long line of the night with foodie, Sean Morgan looking on was for…

Drum roll…

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Chef Lisa Binns of Stush in the Bush serves up Suga her Picante dish, while husband, Chef Christopher Binns was on the grill.

For the Second year in a row, Stush in the Bush wins at Picante for Suga. We all know you can’t help but love Chris and Lisa Binns and the unique, savoury, delightful food they consistently produce, but without bias, although Chef Mark Cole came close, their dish was the best overall at Picante. Their dish made you hot and cooled you down at the same time with pickled watermelon radishes and pickled cucumbers.

On time/Flowing production – Check
Personality – Check
Presentation – Check
Theme (Picante) – Check
Flavours – Check
Textures – Check
Wow Factor – Check

Snaps for making Vegetarian look good! There were so many flavours and textures on one plate. Absolute perfection. Stush in the Bush showed up once again. Congratulations and Well done.

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Stush in the Bush’s winning dish!

Drinks and Desserts!

Other than more drinks provided by the Appleton Estate Bar, desserts provided were a great way to cool off the taste buds.

Sagicor’s booth with Chef Rebecca Karram had sweet and spicy treats. She did well. I enjoyed all of her desserts. The Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookie with a Chai Spiced Milk Shot was a crowd fave.

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Chef Rebecca Karram’s Menu

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Chef Rebecca Karram telling us what she prepared for us to enjoy at Picante last Friday night.

Wisynco’s Haagen Dazs Ice Cream booth was buzzing all night with patrons and when the night was over, they had brawta. They served one item from their menu at different points in the night. The items provided an added crunchy texture to the ice cream, with a touch of spice too.

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Wisynco’s Haagen Dazs Ice Cream booth Menu Items

Kudos to the organizers and sponsors of Jamaica Food and Drink Festival. ALL events were sold out and from what I heard, patrons enjoyed the majority of the events. Persons were disappointed with the smallest event, Crisp because it had less Chefs.

Jamaicans are a fickle bunch. So after a few successful stagings, I think that JFDF should change things up a bit, and replace Crisp with Seafood, perhaps call it Sea Breeze. It could be by Port Royal for a change of scenery or even in Portland or Ocho Rios. The event has been staged in Kingston for some time, but it is Jamaica Food and Drink Festival.

Looking forward to another great year!

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Gabrielle Burgess a.k.a Suga by the Haagen Dazs booth at Picante last Friday night at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge.

By: Gabrielle Burgess

If you liked this Article, follow Suga Lifestyle Online, on Instagram (@sugalifestyle), Twitter (@sugalifestyleja) or like the Suga Lifestyle Facebook page.

Jamaica Food & Drink Festival starts this Saturday with all things PORK!

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Jamaica Food and Drink Festival (JFDF) kicks off this Saturday with Pork Palooza at Hope Gardens from 7pm – 11pm. It will be an all-inclusive event with drinks and all the succulent pork you can eat for $7000JMD.

They have a stacked lineup of local celebrity chefs. Check out a few of who Suga is interested to see or hear about this Saturday, along with what most of them are cooking here!

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Chef Dionne Reid from Hanover’s Smoked Marlin Restaurant made quite an impact last year at Crisp. This year she will be showing her hand with Pork. She will be offering Pomegranate Glazed Ribs and Head Cheese Shooters.

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The popular and confident Chef Andre Sewell who caters will have:

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Chef Charissa Henry usually has something interesting up her Pink Apron Sleeve. This Saturday it will be:

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Moveable Feast’s Chef Michelle Williams has been in the culinary industry for some time now, but I have never had the pleasure of indulging in any of her dishes. I am interested to see how her menu turns out.

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Then there is Chef Christian Sweeney who is usually a crowd favourite. He is offering dessert with a touch of candied pork too!

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Ticket Information

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Enjoy!

By: Gabrielle Burgess

If you liked this Promo, follow Suga Lifestyle Online, on Instagram (@sugalifestyle), Twitter (@sugalifestyleja) or like the Suga Lifestyle Facebook page.

Save the Date Foodies!

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The Caribbean’s No. 1 Urban Food Festival starts Saturday, October 20! 

Save the dates and look into securing your tickets! Season bands are on sale this year too.

All days should be a treat. If you must choose, stay tuned to your favourite Chefs and Restaurants’ social media pages and see where they will be.

The website,  http://www.jafoodanddrink.com may feature them soon and tickets are on sale now on the website.

Here are your JFDF Ticket Ambassadors and Outlets:

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Did you know?!

> This year, JFDF will be 100% plastic free!

> Part Proceeds of the event will go towards UTECH’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management Hotel Facility

The Festival will sponsor the complete outfitting of UTECH’s demo kitchen.

Enjoy 7 World Class Food Events at 7 Iconic Kingston Venues.

By: Gabrielle Burgess

If you liked this Blog, follow Suga Lifestyle Online, on Instagram (@sugalifestyle), Twitter (@sugalifestyleja) or like the Suga Lifestyle Facebook page.

Suga Lifestyle and fellow Alumnae Donate to the I.C.H.S F/N Lab Reconstruction!

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Gabrielle Burgess a.k.a Suga of Suga Lifestyle handed over a $100,000JMD Donation to President Keisha-Ann Down and other members of the I.C.H.S Alumnae on behalf of herself and fellow alumnae towards the reconstruction of the Food and Nutrition Lab (Date: Sunday, September 9, 2018)

Gabby a.k.a Suga’s alma mater, Immaculate Conception High School, began reconstruction of its Food and Nutrition Lab on Monday, July 2, 2018 and fundraising has been ongoing. However, they are were short by about $750,000JMD at the beginning of the summer.
When I heard about this, as past Deputy Head Girl (2002-2003), founder and owner of the website,
http://www.suglifestyle.com, I had to help. I thought instead of giving a donation personally, I could make more of an impact by approaching fellow alumnae. It’s a good thing I did, because so many did not know about the reconstruction of the F/N Lab.
Suga Lifestyle is a brand encompassed on the blog, sugalifestyle.com, and is intended to inspire, educate and entertain via various types of posts categorized by; GW Art, Restaurant Reviews and Ratings, Brand Jamaica, Charities, Health and Fitness, Sports and more.
Since I do Restaurant reviews for my website, it would not only be towards supporting our alma mater, but the future of our Culinary Industry.
Many top Caterers and Bakers currently in the Culinary industry are I.C.H.S Alumnae. To name a few of them and their businesses, Observer Table Talk Food Awards Caterer of the Year, Celeste Gordon of Whip It Up, Pastry Passions, Charissa Henry of Pink Apron Ja, Kuk Up Kreations, Suga Buzz, Levy’s Goodies, Cake Couture Ja and I.C.H.S’s Hall of Famer, Thalia Lyn of Island Grill! Whether or not the idea of fulfilling their dream began at Immaculate, High School is where it all began for many and after all, serves as our very strong foundation.
I attended the I.C.H.S Alumnae’s Monthly Planning session last Sunday to handover the cheque from Suga Lifestyle on behalf of myself and fellow ‘Mac Girl Sisters’, and to become more involved as well. I am extremely happy we were able to help to support our bright future and our alma mater.
The F/N Lab looks fantastic for the opening of the new school year with a few finishing touches to be made. For instance the addition of blenders and other items.
Take a look!
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The newly, reconstructed I.C.H.S F/N Lab!

Thanks again to my Mac Girl sisters who helped to make this donation possible! 
Dr. Astrid Batchelor – 2004
Danielle Hammond – 2001
Gillian Jackson – 2001
Janelle Johnson – 2001
Jessica Fowler – 2001
Kadonah Davis – 2001
Lisa-Gaye Greene – 2001
Maxine Spencer – 1971
Michaelia McLean – 1997
Monique Morgan – 2001
Renee Davis – 2001
Sara-Lu Campbell – 2001
Sasha Innis – 2005
Shanique Cathey – 2001
Tony-Ann Lyew – 2001
Kudos!

 

By: Gabrielle Burgess

If you liked this Article, follow Suga Lifestyle Online, on Instagram (@sugalifestyle), Twitter (@sugalifestyleja) or like the Suga Lifestyle Facebook page.

Family, Friends & Foodies Unite for the Love of Food at Kingston Kitchen!

Kingston Kitchen had Hope Gardens buzzing with activity last Saturday. It was a great event for family, friends and foodies to unite for the love of food.

The event was well supported, probably the biggest staging I’ve ever seen. The logistics and execution of the event was quite commendable.

Just a few drawbacks for me. One bar was not enough for the event and amount of patrons. It was overcrowded to say the least.

I also believe that our Gastronomy network via the Tourism Industry should have been involved with the event to incorporate tourists from various hotels on the north coast of the island. Kingston Kitchen’s Night Market would have been an eye-opening experience for them to see so much of our culture in one area and in one night. The event would also expose them to Kingston, as many tourists are unaware of the many cultural activities, beauty and places to go that exist in Kingston. For the next Kingston Kitchen, I would like to see them in bus loads!

There were so many vendors to pick, choose and refuse from, Suga and husband went with a hit list.

Here is a reminder of what Kingston Kitchen had to offer in addition to entertainment for adults and kids:

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I am proud to say my husband, Randy and I succeeded. We definitely took note of places to try in the near future as well.

Suga’s Breakdown!

MUST-STOPS AND GLAD BAG BUSS

● Stush in the Bush A variety of unique Sauces, Spreads and Preserves made with love. Always a crowd pleaser.

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Lisa and Chris Binns doing what they do best at Kingston Kitchen last Saturday, July 7, 2018.

● Lucky Strike Seafood Bar and Grill – Their Seafood bowl is always a hit. My husband approves!

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Randy Burgess and wife, Suga a.k.a Gabby from Suga Lifestyle at Kitchen last Saturday

● Street Food Saturdays – Fresh mint Lemonade, Street corn and more. They kept patrons coming all night!

Fish Pot – Flavourful, peppery Fish soup. Great gas buster to prep for food galore.

●Simo’s Bread and Catering – Pastries, Soursop Popsicles, Dessert, Sauces, Seasonings. Excellent spread as usual from the main hands of it all, Christina Simonitsch.

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Delicious Mini Cronuts, Pastries, Sauces and more from Simo’s Bread and Catering at Kingston Kitchen last Saturday.

● I Love Paella – Rich, flavourful Tapas! From Valencia with love. Bravas, Croquetas and Empañadas cooked right in front of you.

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Scott van Bonnet – New kid on the block from Blue Diamond Shopping Centre, Montego Bay. They had tasty Turkey and Lamb Wraps. Loved the infused flavours.

Coming soon to Kingston, Ocho Rios and Negril. Can’t wait!

● Topp In Designz Limited – Foodie Gear galore!

Suga had to cop this shirt!

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DISAPPOINTMENTS

Gypsy House Tapas!

I have never thrown away food at Kingston Kitchen, but there is always a first. Trust me, I tried my best to eat their Seafood and Meat stacked Paella, but I just couldn’t get past the dry rice that nearly choked me and lack of flavour. It was horrible. Chef Enric’s, I Love Paella still stands as the place to go for authentic Valencian Paella.

Soup King

They didn’t have any Soup for over an hour after the start time of the event. They seemed to have gotten things going later on in the night though.

SATISFYING STOPS #SugaSnaps

Lyming at Walkerswood – Mannish water, Curried Goat and more. Jamaican cooked food that goes right to the heart and makes you feel at home.

● NCR Sheep Limited – Tasty Lamb sausage.

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Rolly Polly – Ice cream for adults and kids. I enjoyed my topping of Bailey’s rum cream on my Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream. Delish!

PLEASANT SURPRISES

Gustazos Booth 

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Suga had a ball in the Money Machine to grab as much cash as possible in a short period of time to go towards her Gustazos Account credit.

Patrons enjoyed their small giveaways, boomerang photo booth and money machine! Fun addition to the event.

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES #SugaSpieswithHer4Eyes

> Fromage Bistro and Brasserie, Cafe Dolce, Pita Grill, Deaf Can! Coffee, Chocolate Dreams, Until We Eat Again, Cannonball Cafe, Pink Apron Jamaica, Tea Tree Créperie and Sip ‘n’ Go Juice Bar.

Suga didn’t get to stop by the usual crowd faves mentioned above, but I could see that they continued to please!

PLACES TO EXPERIENCE IN THE NEAR FUTURE #SugasRadar

> Eatopia Jamaica, WTF Burgers and 25 Wafflerie

Kudos to Director Leisha Wong, Melanie Miller and their team for their hard work, efforts and a well executed Foodie affair. #SugaEndorsed

Until the next one!

By: Gabrielle Burgess

If you liked this article, follow Suga Lifestyle or like the Suga Lifestyle Facebook page.

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Chefs on Show at The Jamaica Pegasus this Friday!

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Chefs on Show will be this Friday at The Jamaica Pegasus. Tickets cost $6000JMD for you to experience the culinary talents of our very own Jamaican Chefs. Some Suga endorsed Chefs such as Mark Cole, Christian Sweeney and Jackie Tyson will be there too.

Get your tickets today!

By: Gabrielle Burgess

If you liked this Promo, follow Suga Lifestyle or like the Suga Lifestyle Facebook page.

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Support our budding Jamaican Chefs!

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UTECH, Jamaica School of Hospitality & Tourism Management Final Year Students are launching an International Cuisine series starting tomorrow!

Every Friday evening from February 23- March 23, 2018 at Lillian’s Restaurant, the following cuisines will be featured:

Feb. 23    – KOREA

March 2  – WEST AFRICA

March 9  – MIDDLE EAST

March 16 – BRAZIL

March 23 – ITALY

Show our ‘Chefs to be’ some support while enjoying delicious cuisines from across the world!

***Reservations Recommended***

Lillian’s Restaurant

Location: 237 Old Hope Road. Kgn 6

Ph: 876-560-8111 (Orville Waugh); 876-391-1016 (Shanique Stephenson)

Email: icreservations2018@gmail.com

Instagram: @international_cuisine2018

By: Gabrielle Burgess

If you liked this Promo, follow Suga Lifestyle or like the Suga Lifestyle Facebook page.

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Who Made the Girls Say, Picante at JFDF 2017?!

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Gabby from Suga Lifestyle and foodie friend, Tiffany Simmonds by the Picante Backdrop at the Entrance of The Ruins, Mona Visitor’s Lodge last Friday night

The Menu!

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I grabbed a tasty ‘Coketail’ on the way in to Picante last Friday night and stopped by Walkerswood featuring Alexa Von Strolley. Her Coconut milk, Mint and Cucumber Granita pleased the palate. Her Spicy Pork Belly with Chinese Pancake was indeed spicy. I enjoyed it. It didn’t look like the Curried Arancini with Fried Thai Basil Shrimp and Spicy Carrot salsa was ready though, so I missed out on that one.

Chef Andre Fowles was my first stop inside the main area. I was excited to see what the famous Chef had to offer. He is the first Jamaican dubbed two-time ‘Chopped’ Champion. He is also Chef de Cuisine at the renowned Miss Lily’s in New York.

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Pork Belly and Oxtail from Andre Fowles!

He is famous for Jamaican Fusions and he demonstrated that last Friday night at Picante. Chef Fowles served up a juicy, well seasoned Oxtail mole with ‘Tun Caanmeal’ Churros. He was surprised that I wanted Pork. I think he thought the ladies were watching their weight. But he had no idea who he was talking to. I told him to give me the ‘Picante Pork Belly’ stat. It came with Scotch Bonnet Avocado crème. It was spicy but it didn’t make me scream, Picante. I enjoyed all the flavours resonating from the dish though, a mix of both sweet and spicy and I felt honoured to have his food.

Charissa Henry of Pink Apron Ja, who has been on the circuit for about three years had a lot going on, maybe too much. Her food came with instructions and a paper bag to shake it all up in. Her ‘Blouse and Skirt Swimz’ consisted of Jam-Asian Salt and Pepper Shrimp served with Nitrogen smashed, Chai Sweet Potatoes. I thought the Pepper Shrimp would have been spicy, but they weren’t. The entire concept was creative, but I don’t think the ‘shake-up brown paper bag’ to eat out of was suitable for a casually elegant event. Great job with the Nitrogen smashed, Chai Sweet Potatoes though. That had a uniquely satisfying taste and texture and definitely displayed thinking outside the box.

Allison Porter-Smalling a.k.a Chef Alli P, foodie turned homegrown Chef turned Cuisine artist, a newbie in the industry, peaked my interest. But her Beef Skirt topped with Watermelon Salsa and Scallion Aioli was disappointingly bland. No wonder there was no line. Points for presentation though.

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Allison-Porter Smalling’s Beef Skirt topped with Watermelon Salsa and Scallion Aioli

If you were wondering which station had a line the entire night, that was Stush in the Bush’s Chris and Lisa Binns at work! The King and Queen of a unique farm to table experience including vegan delights, fiya grilled pizzas, homemade sauces, butters and preservatives.

Their long line wasn’t because they were moving slowly either. Even their friends pitched in to help them serve. When the rain relieved other tents from lines, persons still stood in the rain so they didn’t lose their spot in the line for Stush in the Bush! What were they giving these people?

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Vegan Delights from Stush in the Bush

I can’t believe it wasn’t Chicken! It was spicy Cauliflower ‘Chicken’ Wings and Mustard Greens with liquid STUSH Blow Fyah Sauce and Grilled Corn with a Scotch Bonnet Cashew Cream, Cilantro and Lime. Divine! Definitely Picante and even though I tried my best not to choose my faves, Stush in the Bush as the Winning station for the night, I cannot deny them what was earned. Bravo. Hi Five. Rain Dance.

Persons in the line that were clueless about Stush in the Bush from Priory, St. Ann, were surely brought up to speed by me while waiting. After the fact, when I checked on one of the ladies indulging in her Grilled Corn, her reaction was ‘Yes. Sooo good. I have to go to their place.’

Simon Levy, known for his brand, Roast, is the Chef that provides artisan meats to foodies. His Smoked Paprika Pork Belly was tender, but wasn’t anything to keep talking about. However, those Scotch Bonnet Margarita Shots were a hit! Picante!

Oji Jaja’s Coconut Lime Ceviche with Poached Shrimp pleased but didn’t tantalize the palate. I appreciated the exquisite presentation and variety in flavour, but it needed some zest to go with the theme of the night.

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Oji Jaja’s Coconut Lime Ceviche with Poached Shrimp

Fromage Gourmet Market/Brasserie’s Lisa Chin had some tasty Habanero Shrimp Cakes with truffle Corn Béchamel.

Colin Hylton, one of THE most popular consultancy Chefs in Jamaica and a veteran in the industry for 30 years, familiarly known for his Restaurant that was Guilt Trip, made us scream Picante. That round of Beef that I had when he said he was almost out of food was tough as rocks though. Where did he get that meat?! Anyhow, that sauce was finger-licking and hot!

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Colin Hylton’s Malaysian Spiced Braised Beef Short Ribs and Mahogany Glaze

I had low expectations for Alexx Antaeus of Opa Greek Cuisine. I didn’t even join his line. My husband, Randy decided to still give him a try, bringing back a plate full of food that he hardly touched. I gave him the ‘I told you so’ look and gave his Greek Herb Jerked Chicken, Spicy Beef, Eggplant and Béchamel Moussaka a try. ‘Meh’. It lacked seasoning, flavour and spice.

I was told I needed to head over to Jacqui Tyson. Jacqui is of course an icon in the Culinary industry, of which she has been a part of for the past 20 years. But as I stabilised the contents of my stomach below ‘full buck’, I tried to visit Chefs who I have never tried before. Her tent was also very crowded when I arrived. I was happy to still have space! I made it over to her tent at about 11pm, where there was still a line close towards the end of the night. My husband confirmed I missed her Picante! He visited earlier in the night and said her line was long but it moved quickly.

I had her well textured, Salmon Lollipop marinated in Olive oil, Tarragon and Garlic, grilled with three Béarnaise pepper (Scotch bonnet, Jalapeno and Mexican dried Chili) that was delish. I missed out on the handmade aged Appleton rum caviar that was sprinkled on top. What a calamity.

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Jacqui Tyson’s Salmon and Three Pepper Béarnaise

I took a break, missing out on Chef Christian Sweeney’s delights and passed on Desserts by KukUp Creations.

I then made the wise choice of leaving dessert for the end of the night. I visited Chocolatier Michelle Smith of Chocolate Dreams. What a treat! The entire spread of Hot Chocolate, Truffles, Toffees and Brownies was delicious. We ended the night saying Picante. Those Crunchy Scotch Bonnet Toffees were fire! Well done Michelle.

Picante was a fun, spectacular event. There was good music and I appreciated the availability of my choice of premium liquor up to 11pm and the fact that the rain was not continuous throughout the night. It actually seemed fitting for the event. Everytime a station heated us up like Stush in the Bush or Simon Levy’s Scotch Bonnet Margarita shots, there was a cool foreign-like breeze according to my friend Tiffany and a drizzle of rain. The event was equipped with a huge tent in the middle to shelter persons. We had top of the line options to pick, choose and refuse from. When the Big Man up above thought we were bordering on gluttony a bit after 11pm, a downpour of rain came down to wash away our gastronomical sins and in turn concluded Picante! #SugaEndorsed

By: Gabrielle Burgess

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Suga’s Top Picks at CRISP Last Thursday!

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Photo Credit: Jamaica Pegasus

Jamaica Food and Drink Festival’s Crisp last Thursday night was a soggy but tasty, well decorated affair. Rain was continuous throughout the entire day right up to the scheduled start time of 7pm. I kept checking the event’s Instagram page to see if it was still on and saw no update even after 6pm. So I got ready after 7pm as planned and arrived at 8pm.

I was surprised to see so many persons already in the venue with their umbrellas and some equipped for the drenched Gardens of the Pegasus in rain boots! There were already lines by the different Chefs. I hate lines. Especially since I had less than an hour to circle the event to get to another engagement afterwards.

Tickets were almost sold out and the event was still on despite the continuous rain, so it was clear that Patrons came out early to get their money’s worth. This event proves Food surely brings out Jamaican people, rain or shine and early too.

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Patrons out early in numbers, equipped with umbrellas during the rain at JFDF’s Crisp.

It was after the fact that I saw updates on JFDF’s Instagram page that the event was still on and the new start time was 8pm. I am sure many persons would not have seen those notices if they already started getting ready to battle the traffic.

I appreciated the colourful, Mexican themed décor. It definitely lightened the mood along with fully stocked bars that had a wide variety of Beers and even Beer mixes. The Beergaritas were a good idea for persons like myself who didn’t feel like drinking from a bottle that night.

With regards to the lines, some moved faster than others. I am happy I got to sample from almost everyone since I had to leave early.

The Menu!

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My biggest regret was that I missed out on Chef Mark Cole‘s Crispy Pigs’ Ears and Plantain crusted Beef Tenderloin. I heard they were amazing.

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Chef Mark Cole’s Plantain crusted Beef Tenderloin (Photo Credit: Jamaica Pegasus)

Chef Cole was the main person I was looking out for but didn’t spot him at all. Apparently the rain got the best of his tent and he was moved to the tent by Jamaica Pegasus’ Desserts that wasn’t as visible as the others close to me. I didn’t plan on sampling Desserts, but those Cinnamon Churros looked divine! I definitely have some catching up to do and will make up for what I missed with a visit soon!

The Winner for Suga!

The 6 other Chef stations that I visited did a great job. Kudos to all of them for still producing great culinary work in such unfavourable conditions. However, the winner for Suga was Dionne Reid from Smoked Marlin!

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The Smoked Marlin Team speedily prepping to serve Patrons in line.

That outcome was totally unexpected for me given my visit to their Restaurant earlier this year and their presentation compared to the others.

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Suga’s dish received from Dionne Reid with Smoked Marlin Tostaditas

When I was by their station about 8:30pm, Patrons including myself did not receive the Beignets. Perhaps they were not ready as yet.

Regardless, they made it work and still plated quickly for persons lining up to see what they had to offer.

The taste of their Smoked Marlin Tostaditas had three stages for me. The experience started with a mild introduction of veggies, followed by a hit of spiciness, which gave a complete ‘woah effect’, topped off by burst of flavour. Bravo to Dionne Reid and her Smoked Marlin team all the way from Hanover.

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Dionne Reid from Smoked Marlin’s presentation with all items listed on her menu after she got things going later in the night – Smoked Marlin Tostaditas and Sweet Corn Beignets

Special mention goes to one of my faves, Christina Simonitsch and Andre Sewell. I finally got to try his food! Looking forward to one of his pop-ups since he is no longer at 218 Gourmet by Mountain View Avenue fulltime. Even though Sewell was not producing samples as fast, I refused to leave the line. The wait was worth it. I heard his line was continuous for the night and got many return patrons like Smoked Marlin, Christina Simonitsch and Mark Cole.

Christina’s Pork Belly was succulent with a tasty Crisp on top. Quite appropriate for the event. The Sorrel and Red Stripe Gel complemented it well too. I’m upset that I missed her Crispy Pigs’ Ears too! They looked like a part of her display like other Chefs, but I should have known better with Christina that anything on her table is up for grabs.

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Christina Simonitsch’s Crispy Charcoal Pork Cracker with Carrot Purée, Pork Belly, Sorrel and Red Stripe Gel

I thought Andre Sewell’s Jerk Fried Chicken Crispers with Scotch Bonnet Sriracha could have been a bit spicier, but it was delightful nonetheless. Afterall, spicy is my personal preference and it was Crisp not Picante.

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Andre Sewell’s Jerk Fried Chicken Crispers with Scotch Bonnet Sriracha, Avocado Purée and Matchstick Potatoes

The Popcorn Shrimp and seasoned Popcorn was a bit disappointing from Sarah Willers of Blue Ridge. I thought they would have been more creative, given their reputation of extravagant presentations and delicious food from the cosy restaurant nestled in the scenic Blue Mountains.

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Sarah Willers’ Blue Ridge Popcorn Shrimp with Beer infused Barbecue Sauce and Korean style seasoned Popcorn

I enjoyed Dwayne Smalling aka Bearded Chef’s Beggar’s Purse though. The tropical flavours were truly brought out. Mission accomplished. Well done Chef.

Lastly, I cannot forget to mention one of the People’s favourites for the night, National’s station featuring Chef Christian Sweeney. The Cheesy Hardough Fries with Pulled Pork and Shrimp were a hit and I enjoyed it.

Crisp had high expectations so the quality of the event was definitely compromised by the rain. The Chefs had a late start and the surfaces to walk around were drenched, topped off by balancing an umbrella, food and a drink, but you can’t control mother nature. At the end of the night Patrons still left satisfied.

I am thankful and give a lot of praise to the Chefs, the Jamaica Pegasus and the JFDF team for managing to still pull off a great event. #SugaEndorsed

By: Gabrielle Burgess

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