Junior and Senior High School Students Learn Skills from Top Chefs

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Raquel Turnquest, Acting Education Officer speaks to students at the 3rd Annual Bahamas Young Chef Culinary Conference. (BIS Photo/Kristaan Ingraham)

Not only did students who participated in the 2019 Bahamas Young Chef Culinary Conference get to rub shoulders with top chefs, they got to put this year’s theme – “Creatively Embracing Indigenous Foods through Innovation for Sustainable Development” – into practice. Organizers of the annual event secured a 50 pound pig and a sheep from the Ministry of Agriculture’s animal livestock section, Gladstone Road and arranged for them to be slaughtered at the Abattoir on Farrington Road and had Chef Theodore Burrows, a trained butcher, and Chef Clement Williams, both retired, lead Animal Butchery Demonstrations at the conference.

“With our theme this year, I can think of no better way to practice sustainable development in the food industry in The Bahamas, but for us to actually use what we have, not just the fruits and vegetables that the farmers may grow on the islands, but also the livestock. Indigenous foods are not just fruits and vegetables. It would also be the animals that are raised and reared on the farms throughout The Commonwealth of The Bahamas,” said Raquel Turnquest, Acting Education Officer, Family and Consumer Science Unit, Department of Education. “On Monday morning we had the pig make its debut. We watched videos, the students had information in the booklets to take away to learn about the different cuts. Young chefs this year have actually had an opportunity to see it in a text book, see it in a video and see a live demonstration where they could touch the different cuts as they were being prepared – watch a butcher actually dissect the entire animal and then talk about the different parts,” she added.

“After we finished breaking a part the pig into the different cuts they actually went and started to season them. They made a dry rub, a wet rub, some of the students actually got their hands in it. [They] put on aprons and were participating in seasoning and actually preparing a sausage from the meat that was fabricated. “They did marinades as well. This morning when we came back in we focused on the different cooking methods, some grilling and some roasting.” A similar exercise was done with the sheep and the students were able to taste the cooked rice, pork and lamb during a sampling period.

The students, representing junior and senior high schools from New Providence and the Family Islands, also participated in rice cooking sessions led by Chef Debbie Wheeler of Mahatma Rice and a fruit juice production presentation by Tonjia Burrows of the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation.“It is no longer just a workshop where we focus on knife skills. We want to be able to have the students interact with chefs. The chefs often talk about the knife skills that they want to see but to get the students get to see the chefs in action, and watching their knife skills and emulating them. In some cases students actually participate along with the chefs,” said Ms. Turnquest. Deputy Director of Education, Sharon Poitier, encouraged the students to embrace the opportunities to explore and refine their culinary skills so that they can be the best at what they do and the best that The Bahamas has to offer to the world. She also encouraged them to maintain an attitude of humility and a willingness to always learn.

The students received certificates for their participation in the two-day event held March 11-12. The 3rd annual Young Chef Culinary Conference was sponsored by the Department of Education in conjunction with The University of The Bahamas and Asa H. Pritchard Ltd, local distributors for Mahatma Rice and Robin Hood Flour.

Representatives of Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) are shown at the 3rd annual Bahamas Young Chef Culinary Conference during a presentation on Fruit Juice Production. (BIS Photo/Kristaan H.A. Ingraham)

Some of the participants in the 3rd Annual Bahamas Young Chef Culinary Conference. (BIS Photo/Kristaan Ingraham)

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