Who Will Take Cook-off Gold at the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival?
In the fiery Publix Jerk Cook-Off, Chef Lawrence Males jerked his way to the top in a field of five competitors, walking away with the coveted Golden Dutch Pot and the $1,500 cash prize.
Chefs of all distinction are afforded an opportunity to put their culinary skills to the test and win cash, bragging rights and the coveted Dutch Pot Trophy in the Publix Jerk Cook-off. The Champion Chef will be selected by a panel of distinguished judges and announced on the main stage. This is a serious contest where anyone can win and be declared the festival’s Jerk Champion.
Chef Lawrence was a prestigious judge at the 10th annual Jerk Festival last year but this year he wanted to humbly enter as a chef participant. He knew the competition would be strong but was confident he had what it took to take the coveted Grace Jerk Cook off title. With family from Jamaican and Cuban descent chef Lawrence played off his Caribbean roots and over 14 years experience mastering cooking techniques incorporating a myriad of Caribbean products. The chef says “ He is blessed to have grown up in a vibrant diverse NY (Queens) community and tasting great home cooked West Indian foods which instilled in me a proper appreciation for flavorful foods”. Chef tries his best to be an culinary Caribbean ambassador to people who’ve never had the pleasure of tasting island flavor!
Chef Lawrence dazzled the judges this year with his three offerings. Each chef had 30 minutes to prepare an appetizer, 20 minutes for a salad and 40 minutes to serve an entrée. This year’s mystery ingredient was fresh Basil. Chef Lawrence’s appetizer was a grilled jerk chicken blue cheese & basil slider. He served up a jerk guava rum bbq sauce to accompany along with a cucumber/pineapple relish to cool the pallet.
For his salad offering the chef prepared a grilled jerk Maine lobster & tangerine salad marinated in a citrus vinaigrette served over watercress basil minted greens.
For his final plate the chef offered a pistachio/plantain crusted red snapper served over Coconut, basil and jerk scented tri-color Israeli cous cous. He grilled some asparagus spears which we’re tossed in a jerk compound butter. He made another unique sauce to accompany the fish which was a scotch bonnet papaya jerk coulis to finish. He had some extra time so he made the judges a refreshing cocktail to cool them off on a warm day.
Chef Lawrence paid tribute to Grace Foods Jerk sauce by incorporating their product into all his creations the day of the event. Chef unashamedly says “ why not use a tried and true product that I even grew up eating as a youth and still use today in my kitchens.” “ I use their Jerk sauce and my creativity to transform a dish and make it uniquely new one…possibly one know has tasted before I hope!” Now that’s a recipe for success. Chef says he will be back next year to defend his title with his trusted assistant chef Felix at his side.