JIS News

The first ever International Jerk Cooking Challenge, held on March 20 at the Jamaica Inn Hotel in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, proved exciting for participants and patrons.
The event, which featured demonstrations by self-taught Jamaican executive chef, Cheryl Smith, of Cheryl’s Global Soul in Brooklyn, New York, and United Kingdom-based celebrity chef, Antony Worrall Thompson, was highlighted by a competitive exclusive cook-off between Jamaican jerk specialist from Ocho Rios, St. Ann’s Scotchie’s Restaurant, Mark ‘Max’ Miller, and Rupert Bourne out of Boston Jerk in Portland.
Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, who attended, had high praises for the event, and commended the chefs on their talents and creativity.
“I want to say how wonderful it has been to stage this first jerk challenge, which is, perhaps, the first in the world and definitely the first in Jamaica. Over the years, Jamaica has established itself as a destination for unique and exciting cuisine. The mystique of Jamaican food has brought visitors to our shores over and over again,” Minister Bartlett said.
He noted that the Ministry was positioning local cuisine to underpin the marketing strategy which would “drive those critical psycho graphic areas”, in a bid to fulfill the “passions” of residents and visitors.
“Food is a great passion, and this event satisfies that for us; we believe that this is a start,” he said, adding that the jerk challenge, and other similar events, should form part of Jamaica’s core attractions in the future.
Meanwhile, both Mark ‘Max’ Miller and Rupert Bourne tied for first place in the jerk challenge cook-off.
“I am very grateful that I am in the winner’s circle. I think that the challenge is a very good thing, and they should do this more often,” Mr. Miller told JIS News.
Mr. Bourne said he was confident that he would have emerged winner of the competition. “I hail from Boston, and the home of jerk. I grew up there,” he said, boasting that his talents utilising the jerk process have been displayed locally and internationally in places like Florida and New York in the United States.
Jerk is Jamaica’s signature dish. It is a technique which involves a process of preserving and preparing meat, utilising a range of condiments and spices, and slow cooking it over flaming smoldering pimento wood. The technique was perfected by the Maroons, who were runaway slaves from the sugar plantations.

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