Rice seafood salad and coconut croquembouche winning dishes in Senior High School Young Chef Competition

Raquel Turnquest, Acting Education Officer, Family and Consumer Science Unit, gives an overview of the competition to students.

At the onset, eight senior high school students were all deemed winners, but after two nerve wrecking hours of preparing, cooking, tasting and serving, Labrano McPhee Jr. emerged the overall winner of the New Providence District 2019 Senior High School Young Chef Competition. The students’ assignment was to plan, prepare and serve a dish made from Mahatma Rice and a flour dish made from Robin Hood Flour. McPhee, a student of Anatol Rodgers Senior High School, concocted cold rice seafood salad and coconut croquembouche. The judges, who are all professional chefs, gave McPhee high scores for the flavor, good texture and creativity of his dishes. They said his was a job “well” done as he showed poise, and presented clean, organized work.

The annual New Providence District contest, sponsored by Robin Hood Flour and Mahatma Rice, was held Tuesday at C.C. Sweeting Senior High School. This year’s theme is ‘Creatively Embracing Indigenous Foods through Innovation for Sustainable Development.’ Before the statisticians tallied the scores, the judges, Chefs Devan McPhee, Celeste Smith, Lester Dean, and Devin Johnson inspected the ingredients, assessed the students’ performance, tasted the dishes and listened to the explanations offered. The students were judged on hygiene, sanitation, dress, indigenous food items and skills demonstrated.

Raquel Turnquest, Acting Education Officer, Family and Consumer Science Unit, the Ministry of Education, explained the judging criteria. “If they make use of a grill, a stand-mixer, make pasta from scratch, roll out a pasta dough, whether or not they have a time-plan, how they are working in the kitchen, whatever techniques they bring to the fore, that’s what they gain points on. “They actually produce eight plates – 4 rice dishes, 4 flour dishes [using] any brand of Mahatma, whether it’s brown rice, jasmine, long grain or par-boil.” The students’ presentations varied from Sweet Island Rice Cake to Potter’s Cay Benewaffle, Junkanoo Shrimp Rice with Au Jus Sauce, to Guava Fritter with Guava Mint Sauce, Ju-Ju Squares and Tropical Clouds.

Chef Johnson advised the students and their coaches, to stay “true” and “native” when they participate in competitions.“ I want to see more native cooking presented in a modern way,” he said. “We don’t live in France, Italy or these parts of the world. Let’s use our indigenous products and indigenous names. You lose points when you use these terminologies and they are not perfected properly. I see things like swiss roll, au jus and croquembouche. You have to do them the right way or else you will get hit harder. Let’s use local terminology, and make up your own words.”

The results are: Santone Pugh, Doris Johnson (8th place); Audia Roker, Doris Johnson (7th place); Aahyah Johnson, C.C. Sweeting (6th place); Jaria Strachan, Kingsway Academy (5th place); Anthony Coakley, C.C. Sweeting (4th place); Nashea Rolle, St. John’s College (3rd place); and Antonesha Thompson, C.R. Walker (2nd place). Mr. McPhee will go on to compete with Family Island students in the senior high school national round of the competition on Thursday, March 14, 2019 at Anatol Rodgers Secondary School.

Labrano McPhee Jr. is pictured preparing his dish.

Aliyah Johnson focuses as she puts her ingredients together.

Gerald Rolle observes the student chefs as they prepare to start.

Antonesha Thompson’s display table before the dishes were served.

Judges from left to right: Chefs Gerald Rolle, Devin Rolle, Celeste Smith, Devan McPhee and Clement Williams.

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