Tag Archives: Shea Stewart

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

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My My My, Fling Back Friday to Pork Palooza!

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Last Wednesday night was Pork Palooza, part of the Jamaica Food and Drink Festival. It was held at The Savanna, 42 Lady Musgrave Road and Gabby’s trusted Suga Bears were out and ready to report!

Hundreds of patrons came out to support the event, excited to see what would be in store. There was Roast pork, stashes of Bacon, Pork cheek, Pork belly, Pig ears, every part of the swine you can think about!

The handpicked best Pork Chefs on the island were Alexa Von Strolley, Chantay Campbell, Gairy Bowes, Christian Sweeney, Shea Stewart, Dale Delisser, Simon Levy and Sarah Willers.

Parking and entry into the venue was well-organized and executed. Tents were displayed nicely and logically for easy access in a U-shape with a Bar in the middle and a Band at the bottom of the ‘U’. Bistro tables were all around the venue and the Band was quite entertaining. Organisers failed to acknowledge them between sets.

Christian Sweeney and Shea Stewart had the longest lines for the night.

Shea had Pork loin stuffed with feta and callaloo complemented by a mushroom sauce that was magical. The pork was a juicy, lean cut that tasted FANTASTIC!

Sweeney’s dish was EXCELLENT. The pork was lovely and well seasoned. The plating and presentation were very original. The guac was a different touch and he advised patrons to squeeze a little lime over it. Before the lime, it was great and after adding the lime, it was even better! Patrons thought visiting his tent was very interactive in comparison to the others.

Simon Levy had a 4-Pork Ramen soup. Call the ambulance because people were suffering from a hypertensive attack from one of the pork cuts used. It threw off the entire broth, causing some people to stop eating the entire dish.

A Suga Bear asked for no water/broth because she didn’t like how it looked as a soup. So she was able to enjoy everything else in the bowl.

There was a tent with Pork Burgers but it was not impressive. The bread was too thick and the patty wasn’t well seasoned. It was a bit disappointing and later in the night when the crowds came and all the lines were full, that station was empty. Their sauce deserves a ‘big up’ though!

Gairy Bowes had Stuffed Pork Butt with Gold Bread. Patrons thought it was superb. Wow!

The Pulled Pork Panini sponsored by National was very tasty and had a pleasant kick to it.

The organizers certainly had a treat for patrons with a Copperwood Pork creation! They had something that many people have a weakness for – Bacon! Candied bacon. It was the rave of the night. It was in beer cups floating around the venue. Extremely tasty with a unique presentation. It was like picking sweetie out of a candy jar.

Now for Alexa Von Strolley! The oh so talented young caterer to watch! She surely took us through a culinary journey of the pig’s anatomy.

IMG-20151029-WA0007-1In the dish pictured, on top is Deep Fried Pig Ears, below was a big chunk of Crispy Pork Belly and on the side were pieces of Orange Braised Pork Cheek. It did not look appetizing at all but this was Pork Palooza and Suga Bears were determined to try everything and embrace the culinary adventure. So even tho the Pork Belly just looked like a slab of fat and was indeed fatty, the taste was pleasantly soft and not chewy. The Ears was of course an interesting twist. Well done Von Strolley.

Other tents failed to be as impressive.

There was Crispy Roast Pork by Dale Delisser. It was like a drier version of Crispy Pork from any Jamaican Chinese restaurant with a little extra kick to it. It was alright.

There was a tent with Pork Heart and Fried Pork, where the texture of both was off and the Fried Pork was too salty.

Desserts were offered too! Banana bread and another dessert with the essence of pumpkin was in the National tent and ice-cream was there as well.

This was actually all a Competition. The Crispy Roast Pork won for the night surprisingly even though Suga Bears rated it as the 4th or 5th best tent for the night. However our natural ethnic population is changing as we speak and the presence of the Chinese was strong.

How exactly did the voting process go?

According to Tina Hamilton, Brand Manager of CB Foods and Nutramix, only the 8 featured chefs were eligible to win Top Hog. Voting was done by the patrons who were given voting tabs at the entrance along with their wrist bands.

Somehow, every patron was not aware, but Ms. Hamilton stated that they were urged to vote for their favorite chef throughout the night by dropping their tab in a voting box provided at the chefs’ stations. These boxes were collected and votes tallied at 10:25pm showing Dale de Lisser as the one with the most votes. Anyone who voted for Dale also got a takeaway gift from Copperwood.

At the end of the night, for $5000JMD, Jamaican patrons had a bellyful and enjoyed themselves, getting value for their money.

What followed last night? Crispy Fried Fare and Beer at the Gardens of The Jamaica Pegasus. That was well supported as well, featuring The Pegasus’ own Chef Mark Cole who cooked for President Barack Obama, Chef Suzanne Couch and more.

Tonight is Stix + Stones Skewers and Spirits at The Ruins, Mona Visitor’s Lodge, UWI Mona for $6500JMD from 7pm to 11pm. 

Winner of Best New Caterer at this year’s Observer Food Awards, Allison Porter-Smalling, Opa, Jacqui Tyson, Liqy Liqy and more will be present. Select Brands is also a sponsor, so cheers to a great Friday Foodies and enjoy the weekend!

For more information, visit http://www.jamaicafoodanddrinkfestival.com