This year’s Jamaica Food & Drink Festival (JFDF) Chopstix lived up to expectations although there were fewer chefs than years prior.
The venue – Zen Lawns at the Hope Zoo – was outfitted in the traditional gold and red décor associated with Asian aesthetics setting the scene for what to expect. While the sweet aroma of ginger, lemongrass, curry & star anise danced on the wafting night air upon entry of the courtyard, the black-clad Johnnie Walker bar stood out as a beacon of refreshment, solidifying the perfect marriage of food and drink.
The night’s offerings were billed as ‘Asian with a twist’ and delivered just that with the presence of fusion offerings with the most unlikely ingredients.
A Coco-Cola booth featuring Chef Simon Levy of ‘Roast’, offered perfectly presented bamboo boats with slices of Coco-Cola marinated pork-belly, five-spice smoked, perched on a mound of Japanese sticky rice, dressed with a white sesame & escallion sauce, dusted with smoked paprika and then drizzled with a Coco-Cola teriyaki sauce.
The description is a mouthful and the bite…a pleasant flavour explosion on the tongue where savoury bites rushed to your tummy.
The long line that kept Chef Simon Levy & his Sous Chef busy was a testament to the demand. They also had a twist on the Cuban classic Mojito that was made with vodka instead of rum with just a soupçon of Coco-Cola.
Chef Haleem Card on his fourth independent presentation at the JFDF gave patrons a Tamarind BBQ Chicken thigh with coconut & lemongrass jasmine rice & lightly pickled vegetables.
This brilliant young chef ambushed patrons with an Avocado Black Truffle Aioli he smeared on the side of all. What a blessed matrimony. Chef Card continues to grab our culinary attention.
Christina Simonitsch of ‘Simo’s Breads & Catering’ gave the crowd a very unusual combination with her Chicken Bahn Mi with Pickled Carrots & Cucumber topped with Fresh Cilantro & dressed with a Roasted Garlic Aioli.
This was a hit with many but, other patrons would have preferred the bread be downplayed. The combination of sweet, salty and pungent made for a surprising inclusion in the night’s fare.
The wild card though was the Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream…..ummmmm more please.
These three chefs successfully stepped out of their comfort zones and delighted patrons with memorable Asian fusion food. Good Job Chefs!
— Written by Attalia Harriman
Attalia Harriman is the Director of Operations and Product Development with Treadways Brands Ltd and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from UWI Mona. She has been writing a food blog since 2013 which eventually evolved into Treadways Kitchen Herbed Pepper Sauce. She is known as an avid foodie & connoisseur of wines and spirits.