Bradley McLaughlin, 15, of Bodden Town, is being recognized in the culture field of the annual Proud of Them initiative.
Bradley may be young but he is already a committed amateur chef, a culinary master-in-training who has the accolades to prove it.
Through his involvement in the Youth Culinary program, he has already competed in and won awards in several local and regional cooking competitions. These include earning second place as part of Team Cayman Islands competing against cooks in the Caribbean Junior Duelling Challenge in Barbados earlier this year. Bradley’s two-person team brought home gold in the first three rounds, winning silver overall. He was the contest’s youngest competitor.
Previously, the Clifton Hunter High School student was part of a pair who won gold in the National Youth Cook-Off finals at the 50th Agriculture Show in March, over a talented Cayman Brac team. As well as placing first overall and being the winner of the Best Chili Competition, Team Bradley also received the Tanya Foster trophy for winning the title of Best Young Chefs.
Bradley especially enjoys creating local dishes with a contemporary twist. His interests in the culinary field also include pastry work and creating desserts.
Bradley thinks that local and regional cooking is one of the most immediate forms of culture a society can impart. When in Barbados, he acted as a youth cultural ambassador, introducing people to Caymanian cooking.
As a born extrovert, it seemed a natural choice for Bradley to one day join the Youth Services Unit’s Youth Flex radio show. Knowing that he would later need to gain additional speaking skills to host the youth-magazine program, he joined the local Toastmasters public speaking club program. Now a graduate of the debating club, he has the additional skills needed for public speaking.
Despite his many successes in the last few years, Bradley admits that his life was not always so golden. This changed when he discovered cookery on joining the Cooking Club in the YMCA after-school program. He says the discipline and focus he learned in the kitchen soon began reaping dividends in other aspects of his life. And as his skills and confidence in the kitchen grew, so did his culinary talent, which shines through.