Anyah Coke, a student of A. F. Adderley Junior High School, is the winner of the New Providence District Junior High School Young Chef Competition. The budding chef’s Coconut Lemon Meringue Muffin and Tropical Seafood Fried Rice tantalized the judges’ taste buds positioning her as winner of both the Best Rice and Best Flour categories. The judges unanimously agreed that Ms. Coke’s skillfully crafted rice and muffin were both flavorful and outstanding. Chef Devin Johnson said, although “old school” her presentation was well executed and well presented with excellent color.
“The rice has very good flavor. Cupcake is exactly what it says it is – zest of lemon, coconut. Here we saw a technique used. A meringue is made and torched. This technique is used in professional competitions.” Chef Owen Bain noted the well-balanced flavor in Ms. Coke’s rice and a muffin. “Nothing over-seasoned or over-cooked, which is sometimes a challenge. Although it had different components it made your palate zing. “Torching the cupcake actually brought out the natural flavor of the lemon. Everybody did cupcakes so the technique in the cupcake made it light. Technically and flavor wise it was a great dish.” Along with Ms. Coke, four other students entered this year’s competition: Alexia Bethel, L .W. Young; Breyah Archer, Kingsway Academy; Chuck’hia Weech, H. O. Nash and Kendra Estil, D. W. Davis.
Now in its 27th year, the Young Chef Competition is organized by the Ministry of Education and sponsored by Mahatma Rice and Robin Hood Flour. This year’s theme is “Creatively Embracing Indigenous Foods through Innovation for Sustainable Development”. The students were required to prepare dishes using Mahatma Rice and Robin Hood Flour. Raquel Turnquest, Acting Education Officer, Family and Consumer Science Unit said, “They are not told if it’s supposed to be breakfast, dessert or anything like that. This is where their creativity comes into play. Most of the students, if they are adhering to the theme, will be looking at indigenous products – what can you do with ju-jus, mango, sapodilla fruits or seafood and what can be produced with rice or flour from any of our indigenous food.”
Two hours were allotted for the students to prepare their dishes. This was followed by a period of tasting by Chefs Emmanuel Gibson, Devin Johnson, Devan McPhee, Owen Bain
Ms. Turnquest said as the national thrust is towards sustainability, students were being encouraged to use locally produced goods in their dishes. “In the classroom setting, all of our junior and senior high students take a Food and Nutrition course. Some at the senior high level take a Hospitality and Tourism Studies course with a Culinary Arts component. “They learn how to prepare dishes, follow recipes, measure things properly, ratios, [to] produce cakes, breads etc.“Over the course of time they get experience producing dishes whether its salads, proteins or soups. “Our students get a number of skills training in the Family and Consumer Science Education program. That’s why this program is good for us. It’s promotional activity that gets the kids excited about learning. It gets them to put their learning into practice,” said Ms. Turnquest.
Ms. Coke will represent New Providence in the National Junior High School Young Chef Competition to be held in March. Runners up were: Kendra Estil, 2nd; Chuck’hia Weech, 3rd; Breyah Archer, 4th; and Alexia Bethel, 5th.