In a close-fought contest, a team of two of young men from Bodden Town emerged as district cook-off champions last week.
Organized by the Youth Services Unit of the Ministry of Community Affairs, Youth and Sports, the event was held on Saturday, Dec. 10, at the Stacy Watler Pavilion in Lower Valley, where Team Bradley, consisting of Bradley McLaughlin, 14, and Tarec Francis, 15, faced off against Team John Gray consisting of Shaelah Parchment Henry, 12, and Rianna Jones, 11. Using stoves donated by Home Gas, the teams each prepared a chili appetizer, a lionfish entree and a cold drink.
According to a press release, the cook-off participants worked in front of an audience who had the chance to judge the chili in the peoples’ vote portion of the contest, while the mains were evaluated by judges Georganne Rankine, the National Youth Culinary Coordinator, and Brittney Bodden, National Youth Culinary Prefect.
Team Bradley lightly sautéed the lionfish, which was served with a fresh mango salsa made with sweet peppers, mangoes, onion and cilantro on a bed of white rice, accompanied by a tamarind drink.
Opponents Team John Gray pan fried the lionfish, which was served on a bed of white rice and a garden salad accompanied by fresh orange juice with ginger.
Coming away with the win, Team Bradley also won the people’s vote for their chili dish by garnering 20 votes to their competitors’ 12.
“Tarec and Bradley weren’t at all nervous before the competition started and worked together well, while one cooked the other was sous chef and vice versa,” said Ronald Francis, who was supporting his son Tarec at the event.
“According to the judges, it was a fairly close-run thing. Both Brad and Tarec know that they’re going to have to cook out of their skins to win the national contest,” he added.
As well as receiving personalized chef jackets, Team Bradley earned entry into the National Youth Cook-off at the Agriculture Show in March, where six teams will have up to two hours to prepare a three-course meal including a Caymanian dessert and drink, with coaching by a professional chef.
Up next in the youth culinary challenge, the George Town District Cook-off takes place on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017.
The events are sponsored by lionfish suppliers CULL and Ocean Frontiers, the New Self-Help Community Foundation, Home Gas Ltd., the Cayman Islands Agricultural Society, Miracle Brokers International, A. L. Thompson’s, the Department of Environment, the Cayman Culinary Society, Foster’s Food Fair IGA and the Youth Services Unit.