Jamaica Food and Drink Festival launches ‘experience kitchen’ for upcoming festival
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett removed his jacket, rolled up his sleeves and washed his hands before becoming the first person to cook in the new, state of the art “experience kitchen” opened by the Jamaica Food and Drink Festival last Thursday.
Guided by Chef Oji Jaja, Bartlett prepared pan-smeared salmon fillet, parmesan polenta and smoked tomato beurre rouge to the “oohs” and “ahhhs” of onlookers who choir, “this smells really good”. It’s not an impeccable process. Bartlett accidentally adds parmesan cheese to the tomato beurre rouge, but the moment highlights the essence of the space: come, learn a thing or two, make magic from your mistakes, and indulge in your culinary creation with colleagues, friends and loved ones.
Located at the Progressive Shopping Centre in Liguanea, Kingston, the space boasts a gourmet market, mixology counter, fully equipped studio kitchen and entertainment deck, all of which will welcome the Jamaica Food and Drink Festival (JFDF) from November 24 to December 5 for its new In D’ Kitchen instalment. The space is aimed to elevate Kingston’s entertainment landscape through 24 fun and interactive culinary experiences over 12 days and will be accessible year-round thereafter.
Events include Cooking + Cocktail classes like the chocolate and cognac Bean 2 Bar event; sushi and Scotch Let’s Roll class; and It’s Veggies, So What? which will centre around vegetarian food and gin cocktails. Twenty people will be allowed per class, and all ingredients are included, the same for the Kids Class and Spirited Seminars. Interactive Nights Out are another event at the festival that will host a capacity of 50 people per soirée. The food and drink inclusive event features the cocktail and food party Screw It; the rum and pork affair Rum Chop; and the Scotch and seafood event S’Catch of the Day. There will also be two all-inclusive brunch events, the capacity for which is 50.
All patrons must have been fully vaccinated by November 9 to attend and must show their vaccination cards before entry. The‘Kids Class is for nine to 13-year-olds who are not required to be vaccinated but must be masked in the kitchen.
JFDF director Nasma Chin said the online ticket sales have been going well.
“One of our first brunches is already sold out, and we’ve had a lot of interest in our Cooking + Cocktail Classes because the themes are really cool,” she told The Gleaner. “Our Kids Class, we’ve gotten a lot of interest… . We think it’s gonna be an amazing class because the kids really want something to do as well, especially in the amazing space … . The sales have actually been going really well, and we’re very happy because Food and Drink Festival has a strong brand, and we want people to understand the space and that they can come and enjoy the space safely and still get back to normal.”
Post-festival, they hope the space will serve as a hub for enjoyment “whether you are a tourist coming in and want to learn a cooking class or you’re a kid who wants to elevate your cooking skills or you can’t cook like myself and wanna learn, or you wanna just hang out with your friends… . Jamaica is our market; we believe in Kingston (and) I think everyone in Kingston wants to celebrate, whether it’s a baby shower or birthday… . Our expectations are for people to come, enjoy the space and connect.”
While Chin did not confirm if they intend to expand the Jamaica Food and Drink Kitchen to other parishes, she said they are looking to do food and drink tours in the future, which ties into their promotion of culinary tourism for locals and tourists.