July 5, 2020

Team Cayman Islands excel in cook contest


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First-time entrants, placed second overall in the Caribbean Junior Duelling Challenge at the CARIFESTA event in (24 to 26 August 2017). The Ministry of Education Youth, Sports, Agriculture, and Lands (MEYSAL) was proud to be a platinum sponsor for the team and happy to provide this opportunity for the students to excel.

Team Cayman Islands faced intense competition against eight other teams: Turks & Caicos, Bahamas, Barbados, St. Croix, Trinidad & Tobago, St. Lucia, Dominica and Grenada. Team Cayman Islands impressed judges at the event with their food flair and ability to create tasty balanced dishes.

The team comprised of Bradley McLaughlin, 15; Brittney Bodden, 18; Ayanna Davis-Eden, 14; and Tarek Francis, 15; won gold medals for the national dish and the second round heats coming second overall. Chef Thomas Tenant was their mentor.

‘I am extremely proud of Team Cayman Islands,’ said Acting Head of Youth Services Unit James Myles, speaking from Barbados. ‘We placed just behind Turks & Caicos, another first-time group, and ahead of the reigning champions, St. Lucia. The judges were blown away with our flavours and techniques and made special mention of Brittney’s superior knife skills.’

In the opening round, contestants created signature and national dishes. Team Cayman Islands prepared Cayman-style stewed conch with bell peppers, onions, and mutton peppers. The team also made a sea pie cut into star shapes (to represent and the Sister Islands) accompanied by mango-corn, avocado, salsa, pumpkin and plantain mash with charred okra and spinach. Scoring 42.3 out of 50 points, Team Cayman Islands placed third.

The contest’s second round, a day later, comprised of a mystery basket of ingredients including beef liver, pork chops and marlin. The team made a smoked liver remoulade with pan-seared pork chops flavoured with coconut smoke.

Both the second- and first-round scores were tallied and Team Cayman Islands placed third place entering them into the trophy round.

The final round, on Saturday morning, included another mystery basket. Teams worked with bok choy, avocado, bacon, shrimp, chicken breasts and lamb chops. Team Cayman Islands prepared a bacon-flavoured plantain pepper jelly puree to go with the roasted chicken breast. These were accompanied with charred bok choy, lightly pan-seared lamb chops; avocado, cho-cho and cucumber salsa with Caribbean fried rice.

The Ministry’s Chief Officer, Christen Suckoo said, ‘Second overall is an amazing feat and winning the gold medal in the national dish confirms that there is nothing better than some Cayman-style conch. However, I am impressed with the innovative dishes and flavours they presented in the various rounds. The team worked very hard under extreme pressure and they came out on top.’

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