October 25, 2021
Sia Wright’s vegan dishes earned her the top spot in this year’s recent New Providence district round of the Bahamas Young Chef Culinary Senior Competition.
The 11th grade student of Akhepran International Academy who aspires to become a marine biologist and study mammals, entered the competition to challenge her creativity in the kitchen.
“I love the culinary arts,” said Sia. “It has been a passion of mine since I was about 5-years-old. I also think it is amazing to add a plant-based spin on classic Bahamian dishes.”
“My entire immediate family are all vegans. My siblings and I have all been raised as vegans since birth. We have chosen this lifestyle to ensure [that] we are all healthy and enjoy a high quality of life. Cooking is something that I enjoy. I look forward to creations featuring a savory dish – ‘Coconut Infused Lentil Brown Stew’ stuffed in a savory parcel topped with pan seared mushroom and mixed salad and a sweet dish – ‘Layered Guava Pudding topped with Chocolate Mousse.’ The contest sponsored by the Ministry of Education (MOE), Mahatma Rice and Robin Hood Flour, challenged the students to use any of the rice and flour products to prepare a dish and dessert based on the theme “Bahamian Culinary Resilience: Going Back to Our Roots.”
The line-up of winners in the 29th annual senior high school competition were: Sia Wright, first place; Shandon Bain, second place (Kingsway Academy); Alisah Dixon, third place (Bahamas Academy); Kennia Smith, fourth place (C.C. Sweeting); Antwoine Rolle, fifth place (Anatol Rodgers); Dalexis Huyler, sixth place (Anatol Rodgers); Darius Fernander, seventh place (Doris Johnson) and Teanno Kelly, Doris Johnson; eighth place.
The budding chefs concocted their dishes in the Hospitality and Tourism Studies Food Laboratory at Anatol Rodgers Senior High School under the watchful eyes of Chief Judge Gerald Rolle, Clement Williams, Jimmy Dean, Addiemae Farrington, Michael Rolle, and Hazel Rolle, Celeste Smith (pastry chefs).
Of Sia’s rice dish Chef Adderley said, “This impressed me because the flavors I got when I ate this -- from the lentils ... to the rice, to the mushrooms, this was 100%.
In Atlantis this would blow people away to see that someone this young can put on a plate something like this. This is what I expect to see from someone who has been cooking for 20 years.
He said Sia’s work showed a lot of preparation. “As a chef, you impressed me. [It was] very unique; what makes food different is presentation, uniqueness, flavor and taste,” he added.
Chef Williams said, “The execution is what separates the winner from the loser. It was well executed. When you cut into it, it bursts open with flavor.
“Great job! This is a specialized area in the kitchen. We have guests in the hotels who can’t eat regular food and this is what they want.”
Chef Williams took issue with the portion size of Sia’s dessert advising that it should be smaller. He also suggested that she enhance her dish with dark, sautéed tomatoes for more flavor.
Raquel Turnquest, Education Officer, Turnquest congratulated the students for representing themselves, their families and Family and Consumer Science Education Departments.
“You are the brightest and best of what we have,” said Ms. Turnquest. “Continue with your studies. When you put in the time you will get your reward.”
She said, “The whole idea behind this competition is to have a village type of concept around the knowledge, skills and attitudes, that are young chefs need to have industry, home and school all working together to produce young chefs, young culinarians for the future of The Bahamas.
“The competition is to give the students what they need to pursue a career in hospitality and tourism studies. They may choose to be a chef or start their own business. This is something to get the students engaged and immersed in what they are studying in Family and Consumer Science Education.”
She explained that the future of the competition depends on what happens this year -- whether the international sponsors would come back next year and whether the MOE, the primary sponsor, would allow the competition to proceed. “It’s a team effort. This year competing in COVID-19 is a whole different flavor. Hats off to all of the teachers that have set aside the time to work with the students.”
Darius, the first student ever to represent his school’s Vocational Department, entered ‘Long Island Runner and Coconut Darry’ -- curry chicken and white rice with a twist. He described it as a baked tartlet with white rice and the crust and cheese as the base, stuffed with minced curry chicken, vegetables and topped off with cheese. The dessert was ‘Coconut Duff with a Coconut Jimmy Sauce.’
Other dishes included:
Antwoine: ‘Rake n’ Scrape Rice Cake with Lemon Grass Spiced Poached Conch and Tropical Salsa’ along with ‘Baked Guava Pancakes with Pineapple and Guava Sauce/Cream Cheese’ topping. Dalexis: ‘Surf n Turf: Steamed Dumplings with Vitamalt, Passionfruit Sauce’
Kennia: ‘Avocado Rice Cheesecake with Spicy Tamarind Sauce’ and ‘Bahama Roll in Sea Grape Sauce Topped with Micro Grains.’
Alisah: ‘Coconut Tart Rice Pudding and Sour Orange Iced Flour Cake Cookies’
The top three winners will move into the national round where they will compete against their counterparts in the Family Islands.