Young Caymanian chef Jack Barwick will take over the menu of an award-winning London restaurant for five nights this month in a showcase of the U.K.’s most promising new culinary talent.
Mr. Barwick, 23, tied for the top spot out of a 50-candidate pool representing the U.K.’s best up-and-coming chefs during the M & Bookatable Young Chef of the Year Awards.
After months of evaluation, the top 10 candidates faced off in a final, 10-day round of competition at M Victoria St., where Mr. Barwick will now offer his own four-course menu from Aug. 29–Sept. 2.
Mr. Barwick, who works with London restaurateur Robin Gill, impressed judges and diners with Caribbean and English-inspired flavors. An inventive menu included lamb loin with black garlic, grilled banana and white chocolate fudge.
“It was a lot of fun. I was super happy being in the top 10. Just being in the top 50 is amazing,” Mr. Barwick said.
“The best feeling was making people proud. Everyone has always supported me in Cayman.”
He said his ability to compete against those trained by Michelin-star chefs demonstrates that talent from diverse backgrounds can make their mark in the kitchen.
Scores were based in part on an evaluation by a panel of judges, including professional chefs and restaurateurs. A bulk of the judging came down to the public taste test, however. Two-thirds of the scores depended on diners who paid for their meal.
Mr. Barwick tied with 20-year-old Perry Torrance of Smiths of Smithfield with 674 points out of a 750-point maximum.
Mr. Torrance will also take over M Victoria St. for five nights from Aug. 22-26.
As part of the award, the two will also travel to Reims, France, courtesy of Champagne Pommery.
Mr. Barwick plans to treat guests to some of his favorite Caymanian flavors, including Scotch bonnet, banana, and his grandmother’s fudge recipe. A banana and clotted cream ice-cream dessert will be a tribute to his Caymanian-British heritage.
“A lot of the techniques I use are traditional, but it’s the combination that’s unusual, and using all of the products, not throwing the stem away or using the head of the mackerel,” he said.
DJM Restaurants owner Dean Max had the opportunity to witness Mr. Barwick’s culinary creativity in the kitchen at the Brasserie in Grand Cayman.
“Working with him, you can immediately see from his creative side that he likes to push the envelope,” Mr. Max said. “I really think he is going to be someone that’s highly regarded, talked about, written about because he’s just super creative and he’s got a personality to push himself. He has business sense, natural intelligence, a creative mind, talent for tastes and flavors, and he has built his resumé working with good chefs.”
Although Mr. Barwick currently lives in London, he returns to Cayman occasionally to cook for select events, including the most recent Cayman Cookout.
“The cool part for Cayman is he does have a love for being home, and I think we’ll see him come back. I’ve already talked to him about wanting to do something together with him back in Cayman,” Mr. Max said.
The M & Bookatable Young Chef of the Year competition is the brainchild of chef Michael Reid and seeks to support a new generation of chefs.
“The competition was inspiring from start to finish. We have incredible talent in the U.K.’s kitchens and with Bookatable and Pommery, we were able to offer a fantastic experience to both encourage and nurture young chefs. I can’t wait for Perry and Jack to now rock it in the two-week take-over,” Mr. Reid said.
Reservations for the ‘take-over’ dinners can be made at www.bookatable.co.uk.