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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival

Kerry Glenn, Chef Irie, DJ Irie
So yesterday at Markham Park in Ft. Lauderdale the 9th annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival took place. Very close to near perfect conditions peoples galore came out to celebrate what most of us Jamaicans consider a love affiar. They came out to celebrate JERK. The air wafted with smells that were fiercely intoxicating, widly tantalizing and more than enough ammunition for the stomach, the brain, the pallete to all spring leaks, salivating to the max... can you imagine, your brain salivating? Now that's some serious stimulus. So, did you miss it?  Well damn!!  Whose fault was that now?  I guess you will just have to wait until next year to come and have a great time, for this event has grown in leaps and bounds and with the looks of it there is ample room for future growth. It is sometimes hard to get a good feel for what was happening at the festival when you are actively participating in some of the festivities, but neither my eyes nor my ears failed me. There were droves of people, families, groups, single people, babies being pushed in strollers, babies on shoulders, people on crutches, in wheel chairs...yes they were all there. They were all there to eat and/or participate in the planned activities such as kite flying, cricket, dominoes, jungle gym, bounce houses, performances at the cultural center, vying for prizes at the various sponsor booths... you getting the picture yet?  Yes, if you were not there you missed all of that and of course all the jerk pork, chicken, lobster, beef, fish, crab, crab legs, ice cream and then some. I started the day eating jerk pork and yes you guessed it, ended the day eating more jerk pork. Lawd mi mout did deh pon fiyah...
Tanya Oliver & Kerry Glenn

Chef Ron Duprat

So what else did you miss? Well yours truly was there doing all manner of tasks... why of course I'm going to plug Chef Irie, it is afterall MYYYYY blog. Yes, I hosted the Celebrity Quick Fire Challenge and for me that has been the highlight of the day since I was asked to host it a few years ago. This year was kick ass for we had three returning champs ready to do battle - DJ Irie from the Miami Heat, Sharon Lawson of NBC6 News and Kerry Glenn former defensive back for the Miami Dolphins. Tanya Oliver our newest warrior represented TeleAmerica and held her own for sure. We started our throwdowns with last year's co-defending champion Kerry Glen competing against Tanya Oliver. Yes, it was on after they both faced off like culinary pugilists, ding ding ding ding!!! game on suckas!!  Though Spirited and seemingly evenly matched, this was not going to be the year for the athlete. Although Kerry brought the energy and cooking chops he was ultimately dethroned by Tanya as our judges Chef Ron Duprat, former Top Chef Contestant and selected audience member Ms kayla, a budding culinary student made their decisions final. Then alas it was time for what I dubbed the heavy weight match of the day, the throw down between DJ Irie and Sharon Lawson. See, what you don't know is that this was a grudge match. DJ took Sharon out two years ago and she vowed to beat the snot out of him if they ever met again.  There was even a public challenge issued to DJ right from Sharon's perch on NBC6 news on Friday night, but hark the crickets were a chirping. There was no response. Well, after the weigh in and the clanging of knives it was on like Donkey Kong. Both bouncing, cracking knuckles, stretching necks, back, hammys and other various body parts giving one the impression that we were about to witness an aerobic assault on helpless pots and pans.  The various peanut galleries inside kitchen stadium and supporting fans that were amassing in and around the tent were pumping them up as all were now anxious to get the battle started. They were now riled up as shouts of DJ DJ DJ DJ...Sharon Sharon Sharon filled the Publix (one of the main sponsors for the festival) culinary tent. As fans and onlookers gathered around, nerves had no buisness here..they attacked kitchen stadium set up with gusto and verve, secret ingredient and all. Being the culprit that planned it all I wanted to see if the secret ingredient of roasted eggplant would throw them for a loop. It would seem that their culinary wizardry was put to good use for they came through like the champs they were. Need I dare say though, someone was about to get their ass kicked!!!

Sharon Lawson & DJ Irie
squaring & jiving each other before the battle

DJ Irie named his dish the "Pacqui" for quite obviously he had seen the championship fight in Dallas the night before and Sharon without blinking an eye called hers the "winner".  Ummm, seems as if she too had seen the fight as well. Their focus was unaffected by wandering microphones in their faces, pesky host asking questions, swooping camera lenses, camera flashes and opposing fans trying to upset the balance. Look here man, alls I gots to say man (in my fake Trini voice), you should have been there for not only were they jabbing, hooking and counter punching but talking trash at the same time..Seems as if DJ is an ingredient thief and Sharon is one to use her womanly wiles for distraction. As the rounds neared closing the intensity ramped up as they started the plate presentations. Let me tell you, they were serious about this as any Top Chef contestants for attention was being paid to details... the stakes were high. Afterall bragging rights were up for grabs. Then it came down to the decision after the final bell, the judges were ready to taste and confer to render their verdicts. Who you think won, was it DJ or Sharon? Who do you think took it? By a unanimous decison and still champion clad in all black like Vlad the executioner (yes, di tory cum to bump, it was a sign) Sharon rendered the "Pacqui" defeated with her dish the "Winner". In true sportsmanship though the two heavy weight contenders hugged in the middle of kitchen stadium. Sniff sniff sniff sniff!!! It was beautiful I tell ya, beautiful.
"The Winner" winning dish by Sharon Lawson
Sharon Lawson, 2010 Celebrity
Quick Fire Challenge Champ
Well, besides me hosting the celebrity cook off, I also did a demo that featured pan seared fingerling potato, sauteed calalloo w/ mango and jerk ribeye steak and I also helped to judge the Jerk Cook off competiton where Robert Wong took home the trophy once again not to mention the $1,500 booty with his deliverance of jerk prime rib, jerked whole steam snapper, jerked king crab legs with accompanying sauce and soft pillowy Johnny cakes. Congrats man and to the other winners and contestants. After all that hard work it was now time to enjoy some of the Musical entertainment. The stage this night was graced by the beautiful Nadine "action" Sutherland, Richie Stephens and John "sweety come brush me" Holt all backed up by the versatile band Code Red. I am almost ashamed to say that in my existence as a yardie, I have never seen any of these artists perform before. Hey there's always a first time fi every ting, nuh true.  Finishing off the night with live vocal scratch effects, ballards, oldies, ska, calypso, dancehall, and many other hip shaking and waistline gyrating renditions was world renowned Fab 5.  Lawd mi a tell yuh peoples, it was a great day. Mek wi si yuh out deh next year nuh.

Chef Irie's Demo Dish
Pan seared fingerling potato
sauteed calalloo w/ mango
Jerk ribeye



  1. Glad I was there to be witness to the event. It was a great rock-em sock-em event. They were all good sports that made a great event even greater. You, Chef Irie and Chef Ron were culinary masters at their best, the food was phenomenal.

  2. I love your recap Chef Irie! I will have to make it a point to attend next year. I want to see you in action as you host the the Celebrity Challenge! It sounds like everyone enjoyed it and had a great time. It has been many moons since I have tasted your jerk chicken :-( That has to change....
    Your mango jerk ribeye looks OUTSTANDING. ( I had to google callaloo!)
    Keep up the good work. Next time post more pics of yourself in action.