Riding Saint Lucia’s current wave of interest in the culinary arts, one of the island’s most popular restaurants, Big Chef Steakhouse, has introduced its own initiative to encourage excellence and innovation in cooking.
Big Chef’s Top Chef Culinary Competition was held on September 22nd and 23rd with nine competitors from Big Chef Steakhouse and sister restaurant Tapas on the Bay. The event was organized by Executive Chef Odeen Martin with the support of owners Rosie and Marc Joinville, and combined serious training and assessment along with a little fun for the team.
In the style of many popular TV cooking competitions, the chefs were each given a mystery basket of items which included weird and wonderful ingredients such as cola soft drink, wasabi beans, duck and chicken feet along with access to a full pantry and a community table of vegetables, fruits and herbs. Competition was fierce, with only an hour and a half to cook an appetiser and entrée using as many of the ingredients as possible.
Despite all the fun, this challenge had a serious side, and the chefs were marked on presentation, taste, texture, service expedience, sanitation and professional skills. Interviews were conducted with each contestant and they were required to report on their own performance as part of the training course. Chef Trevan Laurent and Chef Adrian Sylvester acted as mentors and were available to assist all the contestants.
The 1st place prize in the inaugural Big Chef’s Top Chef Culinary Competition went to Branford Edmund. In second place was Ben Valcin; third was Deirdre Isidore.
A special award for Rising Star was presented to newcomer Adrian Louis, who just left George Charles Secondary School in July and is serious about forging a career in the culinary arts. His former teacher Genevieve Pierre came to present the award.
Honourable mentions were: Dela Edwin, Jannel Octave, Ute Wilson, Tricia Casimir, Melvina Philip.
Each competitor received a certificate of participation and there were trophies for the top three winners and the Rising Star, who also received gift vouchers for dinners and day passes for hotels.
The Big Chef’s Top Chef Culinary Competition was sponsored by Lazy Lagoon Fine Food and Beverage Distributors, who will continue to sponsor the event every six months. Sales Manager Anthia Monplaisir was one of the judges, along with Chef Jean Claude Amedée. Other judges were Chef Odeen Martin, Kareen Tobierre and Big Chef Steakhouse owners, Rosie and Marc Joinville.