A New Junior Chef Cook-off Champion Crowned
After three months of intense training sessions, culinary challenges and nail-biting showdowns, 20-year-old Jade Harewood was crowned the 2023 Junior Chef Cook-Off Champion.
The ultimate culinary showdown, which was held on October 28th, was one of the featured events of the 2023 Barbados Food and Rum Festival.
The Ultimate Culinary Showdown
The Junior Chef Cook-Off Competition was part of the Festival’s goal to empower the next generation of Barbadian cuisine. The competition originally commenced with twelve young chefs who spent weeks under the mentorship of the esteemed Chef Peter Edey honing their culinary skills and learning more about destination Barbados.
After a few elimination rounds, it was left to Dejuan Toppin, Domonique Grant, Raphael Blenman and of course, Jade Harewood to battle it out at the finals.
For the first time, the finals were held in front of a live audience, so friends, family and supporters were able to join in on the action and cheer on the contestants.
The show was hosted by Chef Peter Edey and Megghan Michael. Chef Edey kept the audience informed, while Megghan added a personal and entertaining touch to the show.
Adding New Competitive Elements
With sharp knives, higher stakes and bigger prizes, the competition was judged using the World Skills standards, which featured an additional round and mystery ingredients.
The final competition was separated into two rounds; the Carmeta’s Appetizer/
Roberts Manufacturing Entrée Round and the Wibisco Dessert Round. This was the first time the finals for the competition included a dessert round which added a sweet and challenging element to the mix.
In an effort to promote local, the mystery ingredients utilized were locally sourced from Barbadian brands.
For the appetizer round, the contestants had to create their dishes using Carmeta’s sweet potato flour and chicken liver. In the entrée round, pork loin, Robert’s Coconut Butter, Wibisco Tri-Grain Crackers and Yam were used. Finally, Wisbisco Shirley biscuits and local fruits including mango were used.
The Junior Chef Champion
Though everyone gave a stellar performance, ultimately, Jade won the grand prize of BBD $3000 cash, 6 months of training at the Caribbean Cuisine Culinary Institute and a 3-month internship at D’Onofrio’s at Crane Barbados.
Dejuan Toppin placed second, Raphael Blenman third and Domonique Grant placed fourth.
Noticeably shocked by this achievement Jade stated, “I am genuinely excited and ecstatic at the fact that I won. The hard work that was put in place during those long training sessions has paid off. For my culinary career, this is just one of the milestones I have set for myself and that I have achieved. I am opened to learning and taking in more knowledge to have a bigger understanding of this field I’m trying my best to persevere in.”
Jade’s winning dishes include:
A duo of chicken livers
A Honey and Garlic Pork Tenderloin, Biscuit Stuffed Croquettes, Carrot and Squash Purée
and a Christophine Slaw.
Rum-soaked Doughnut Holes, Ginger infused Crumble, Mango Sauce and a rum-infused meringue
It was her meringue that left the crowd speechless, many hinted that the meringue may have contributed to taking the win.
The Web Series
Since this year’s competition included a web series, one can watch the finals and take a peek into the young chef’s journey via the Visit Barbados YouTube page.
You can watch each episode of the series here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-49bjhea8JhJxUzMVLJ_7cYQCtCWLSUU&feature=shared
The final episode featuring the final showdown will be aired on the Visit Barbados YouTube on November 9th.
By: Rhe-Ann Prescod