Tag Archives: Joy Spence

Suga’s Highlights from the 21st Table Talk Jamaica Observer Food Awards!

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Gabrielle Burgess a.k.a Suga of Suga Lifestyle with husband, Randy Burgess at the Jamaica Observer Food Awards last Thursday, May 30, 2019.

The 21st staging of the Table Talk Jamaica Observer Food Awards last Thursday on the lawns of Devon House was truly a euphoric atmosphere with the highest standards of food and drink in abundance with vibrant music to bounce and wobble to while guests indulged.

All the booths were quite inviting, but with experience, my friends and I were quite selective about our approach to ensure that we didn’t neglect or overlook any of our favourites or newbies on our hit list.

We started at Rainforest Seafoods, where they had salivating Sushi spreads and Wines to pair it all with, including one of my faves, the Kung Fu Girl Riesling courtesy of Select Brands.

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One of the salivating Sushi spreads from Rainforest Seafoods.

We then made our way over to the Restaurant booths from Sandals Resorts International. Tender, juicy cuts of Beef, Ham and Lamb, Seafood, Ribs, Cheese platters, Cocktails, you name it!

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Cumin and Honey marinated Lamb Chops from Sandals Resorts International.

They also had a gigantic Sushi spread.

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As I continued to walk the lawns of Devon House with 18-year old whiskey in hand from Johnnie Walker, my stops had to include my other faves, Stush in the Bush, Christina Simonitsch, Half Moon, Uncorked Sovereign North, Mystic Thai, Steak House on the Verandah and newbies, Jamaican Peanut Butter Factory and Butcher Block by Gregory Burrowes who had savoury offerings from Chef Celeste Gordon, last year’s OFA Caterer of he Year.

Sending a special shout out and hearty Congratulations to Chris and Lisa Binns of Stush in the Bush who cleaned up this year and deservedly so! Their plant powered spread by their very own Sagicor Group booth this year, satisfied scores of guests at a time.

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Lisa and Chris Binns of Stush in the Bush who walked away with 3 awards including the coveted, ‘Jamaican Restaurant with Outstanding Gastronomy Experience Award’.

Christina Simonitsch, who walked away the Enterprise and Outstanding Caterer Awards tantalised our taste buds with her Charred Scotchie Shrimp, then cooled it down with her G.H. Mumm & Strawberry Popsicles. The scrumptious Oxtail Arancini left me speechless.

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Christina Simonitsch serving Randy Burgess some of her Charred Scotchie Shrimps.

Other Highlights of the night:

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Outstanding Caterer Nominee and Jing Shi Award Nominee for Dessert Chef of the Year, Trevanne Donegal, also by the G.H. Mumm booth, with delish Dark Chocolate Truffles.
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Uncorked’s Charcuterie and Cheese platter spread!
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The Solomon Gardner Awardee for Outstanding Service, Best Culinary Team Experience Awardee and Norma Shirley Awardee for Restaurant of the Year, Sugar Mill Restaurant at Half Moon Hotel’s succulent Barbeque Jerk Pork Belly!

Did you know?

Half Moon will be opening a Seafood Restaurant this September!

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Half Moon’s Seafood Restaurant, Delmare’s Chefs Claudio and Clarfield

A taste of what to expect from the Seafood Restaurant to come at Half Moon, Delmare were absolutely delicious Pan Seared Scallops accompanied by tomato compote with saffron and vanilla zucchini spaghetti with Tarragon.

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Delmare at Half Moon’s Pan Seared Scallops
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GCG Event’s surprise Cocktails, divine and spicy Jackfruit Crème Brûlée. They had delightful Beetroot Banana and Chilli marinated Shrimps on pickled green papaya too!
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Newbies on the block and Best Food Product 2019 Nominee, Outland Hurders Creamery and Farmstead Cheese Platter Displays! My tasting plate was quite appetizing.
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Sweet Obsession Ja’s White Chocolate Mousse with Strawberries by the Johnnie Walker booth!
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Just a touch of the mouth-watering Desserts at Future Bakery by Jing Shi’s booth!

Even if I didn’t indulge, I had to also stop by newbies Chillin’ Restaurant and Bar, Seaside Dutchie and Tastee Ltd./Brew’d Awakenings

Grace Kennedy’s Harbour Wines and Spirits also impressed with their Ménage à Trois selection of Wines and more.

You are always as good as your last show and this was by far the biggest and best Table Talk Jamaica Observer Food Awards that I have attended.

This year the Food Awards celebrated various Communities with Jamaican cuisine as authentic as you can get. Congratulations to the Chefs of the Communities that were selected and awarded:

• The Sephestines for Mount Estate, St. Thomas
• Monica Ottar for Bailey’s Vale, St. Mary
• The Allens for Gifford House – Granville, St. James, Montego Bay
• Christopher Marsh for Chris’s Cafe – Main Street, Oracabessa St. Mary
• Chris & Lisa Binns for Stush in the Bush – Free Hill, St. Ann

Chefs, Bakers, Caterers, Retailers and Restaurants have really elevated the level of quality for what they had to offer over the past year.

Congratulations to conceptualiser, Novia McDonald Whyte, the Jamaica Observer, the Judges, Sponsors, Retailers, the talented Nominees, Awardees and everyone responsible for the successful execution and staging of the Food Awards this year.

Cheers to next year!

By: Gabrielle Burgess

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How was Jamaica’s 1st Rum Festival and have you Recovered?!

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Suga thinks that the Jamaica Rum Festival was a success!

I went on the Saturday at about 3:30pm when the sun was out in full force. Imagine I was planning on going earlier. I was disappointed that the seminar times were posted online so close to the day, so failed to plan for them and missed out on available spots. I am sure it would have enhanced my experience even more, but perhaps something can be done next year that may not involve tastings and patrons can be involved.

I was early enough to get my Festival cup though! This was definitely a perk appreciated by patrons. You got back your entry money with that already.

The entrance décor was as real as it could get, taking you on a walk through the cane fields and the history of Jamaican rums via photos and artefacts. Neat cuts of Sugar cane were given away in small paper bags too.

I wish the mist being provided for the Sugar cane was provided for patrons at certain points throughout the festival too, or fans. The heat was hard to bear. Thankfully after a walk around the venue, picking up rum samples from the different sponsors and seeing what was on offer, Kande’s Delights had their delicious ice cream to cool you down. They gave you combo options to get a moist, salivating cupcake from Alex’s Creations too! Those cupcakes are one of a kind.

I am all for Brand Jamaica, but I think if local artisans are to be involved in the festival, they should have products more aligned with the theme of the festival. Perhaps like Street Food Saturdays who had Pepper sauces. Items that persons like to pair with rum or persons who take a liking to rum are likely to purchase.

The CB Food Village was a disappointment. Firstly, there was no card machine by the general line to get tickets. That should have been standard. I believe Rainforest Seafoods was probably the only option on the inside that you could buy from and use a card.

I understand that after drinking all that rum, the food did not have to be gourmet and got the idea behind mostly fried foods etc. to soak up the rum, but I still felt like options were limited and the quality of food put out was not that enticing. For instance, the quality of Pan Chicken in Manor Park is far better than that offered by the Pan Chicken winner that was present. I believe I made a good decision to get the Pork Fries from Tooksie Kay Catering. I got the Fried Chicken tacos from Chilitos too, but I believe Tooksie Kay was probably the best, if not, one of the best options there.

With all of that aside, how was the Rum and Entertainment?! After all, that is what we were there for. Monymusk was the only disappointment. Why was Monymusk giving people straight shots of whites?! Good Lord. Then they wanted you to pay for slushes with no rum in them. Wheel and come again.

Kudus to the other sponsors, Appleton Estate, Wray & Nephew, Charley’s J.B. Overproof Rum and Hampten Estate for coming up with creative 3oz sampler cocktails and mixes that were free. I enjoyed them. Big up Charley’s J.B. Overproof Rum from Trelawny who came with their Sprat and Bammy to soak up that strong cullo cullo a.k.a John Crow Batty!

Bottles and cues were for sale from the different sponsors as well.

The vibe did nice! Uncle Wray was there to mingle with patrons and so was Aunty Joy, Master Blender from Appleton Estate.

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Gabrielle Burgess a.k.a Suga with Joy Spence, Master Blender of Appleton Estate.

Wray and Nephew did an excellent job with on the spot entertainment, such as mixology competitions. Hosts Sakina Deer and Dufton Shepherd really had the crowd engaged encouraging spontaneous outbursts of laughter.

I thoroughly enjoyed all the performances that I caught. Wayne Marshall, Dance Xpressionz and Aidonia certainly took us through their expansive catalogue of music and dance throughout the years.

Hope Pastures needs to take better care of those dusty grounds and I wish I got prior notice to consider carrying a chair, because once you are there you are likely to stay till the very end! Kudos to the organizers for creating such a memorable, local experience. Looking forward to the next one! #SugaEndorsed

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Suga with husband, Randy Burgess at the Jamaica Rum Festival last Saturday, March 9, 2019 (Photo: Kirk Wignall)

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