Cayman sending two teams to culinary contest

Participants are hoping for careers in the culinary arts

Bradley McLaughlin, center, Josh McLean, third from right, and Ayanna Davis-Eden, far right, are among four Cayman contestants, along with Brittney Bodden, who will be taking part in the Caribbean Junior Duelling Challenge in Barbados next week. They are pictured here with James Myles, program director, second from right, and other supporters.

The Caribbean is about to get a taste of Cayman home cooking.

A pair of enterprising young teams from Cayman will compete in the Caribbean Junior Duelling Challenge next week in Barbados, and they will be serving a signature local dish as part of the proceedings.

The competition is being held as part of the Caribbean Junior Culinary Conference, at which the participants will have an opportunity to learn important techniques from prominent chefs.

The competition will take place on Aug. 15 and 16, and the teams will be making a signature dish and another dish from ingredients in a mystery basket.

After the first two rounds, three teams will compete in the finals, which includes cooking a dish from another mystery basket. The winner will take home the Caribbean Junior Duelling Challenge Trophy. All dishes will be judged on technical skills, presentation, taste and texture, cooking techniques and innovation.

Cayman’s Team A consists of 16-year-old Bradley McLaughlin and 15-year-old Ayanna Davis-Eden, while Team B will be 19-year-old Brittney Bodden and 15-year-old Joshua McLean. All participants in the competition are aged between 13 and 20.

Chef Carlos Sierra of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman will serve as coach for both teams.

All four members of the Cayman delegation are seasoned competitors. Ayanna was the 2015 Teen Chopped Camp Champion. Joshua won the National Youth Cook-Off in 2018, and Brittney teamed with Bradley to win gold medals at the 2018 Taste of the Caribbean contest.

Last year, Brittney and Bradley took second place in the Junior Duelling Challenge.

Brittney and Ayanna are also the co-hosts of Home Gas Test Kitchen.

The challenge in Barbados will be filmed and televised in the Caribbean and United Kingdom.

James Myles, the director of the National Youth Culinary Programme, said his young chefs should be well prepared for the spotlight. “They’re used to the cameras,” he said. “We’ve used that as a way to prepare them.”

The Ritz-Carlton and Cayman Culinary Society put together an “Around the Table” fundraiser on May 2 to support the teams. Mr. Myles said that key sponsors include Home Gas Ltd., Affinity Recruitment, Hamlin Stephenson Farmers Market, Hydes & Sons, and Cayman National.

Mr. Myles also lauded the Lighthouse School for facilitating team practice sessions.

All of the participants hope to pursue a career in the culinary arts, said Mr. Myles, and they have all been Toastmaster trained in case the occasion calls for them to make an impromptu speech.

“They’ve been practicing since early May,” Mr. Myles said. “A lot has gone into it.”