2009 fish tea champs net first prize again

Things hotted up as eight
contestants stirred things up to vie for the top place in the East End Surf
Challenge Fish Tea competition.

This year’s Fish Tea teams were:
Coors In da Pan, GG’s Kitchen, East End Steel, Liquid Ambition, Wood’s Jerk
Stand, Nadine’s Hot Spot, Tony’s Jerk Stand and late comer The Originals.

The cook-off officially started at
11am and closed out at 4pm. This gave the judges enough time to sample each steamy
concoction and visitors met up with old friends, checked out Marl Road gossip
and tasted cups full of fish tea while voting for their particular favourite.

Winners for the second year, in a
row or should that be roe, was East End Steel comprising Michael Whittaker,
Kenrick Pearson, Ediwn Whittaker and Billy McLaughlin.

Late entry The Originals took
second place and Coors In Da Pan came third.

“This wasn’t a fluke,” said East
End Steel team member Michael. “I was raised up making fish tea as a young boy
and hung out with older men who knew how to make [it]… I learned a lot and added
my own twist as I grew up.”

Still on a high from having one, he
confirmed that the team also carried off this year’s Peoples’ Choice award.

East End Steel netted $200, a trophy
and a $50 for the popular vote.

When asked what the team intended
to do with their winnings, the CUC linesman said: “Not sure yet, we’ll leave
that up to Billy McLaughlin.”

What he was sure of was that this
would be his last year of competition.

“I wasn’t even going to compete
this year,” he confided “but my boys were begging me to come back for us to
defend the title.”

The born and bred East Ender said
that the reason why this year would be his last year of competition was because
“past winners like Charlie Miller and Crosby Solomon who had won a few times
and “bowed out while still on top.”

The Originals won second place and
Coors in da pan came third.

Held at the East End Heritage Field
as one of the off Surf Challenge events, the annual cook-off is a popular draw
for lovers of local cuisine in general and seafood in particular. Most visitors
were out there to take in the Jet Ski racing, as well as the soaking up the
tunes spun by a couple of Grand Cayman’s top selectas.

Some of the chefs arrived as early
as 9am to set up stall and start cooking the Caymanian staple, which is a
particular favourite of East End residents.

Amid much excitement, cooks added
each carefully selected ingredient to their pots, stirred some, chatted a while
and let their fish tea concoction come gently to the boil while the crowds
milled around eager to sample a cup or two.

The making of fish team is
something of a male preserve and recipes are often passed down from father to
son, uncle to nephew with each new generation adding a little to the recipe if
needed. Talking to several of the fish tea aficionados its clear that giving
away the ingredients to just anybody is unthinkable.

Managing Director of the East End
Surf Challenge Shane Edwards said: “We had a great turn out at the Fish Team
competition. It’s a fun event with a lot of bragging rights and local honour
added to the mix.”


Two members of East End Steel accept their cheque for winning this year’s East End Surf Challenge Fish Tea com-petition at the district’s Heritage Field.
David Goddard