Family Island students took centre stage in the 2023 Bahamas Young Chef Culinary Competition grabbing first, second and third place in the junior division and first, third and fourth place in the senior division.
The contestants, who represented public and independent schools from New Providence and 12 Family Islands, received their prizes during an awards ceremony Friday, November 17, 2023 at Government High School.
Eleven-year-old Lael Green, an aspiring chef and a 7th grader at Inagua All Age School, was declared the 31st Junior High School National Young Chef.
Moneliesha Johnson, an 11th grade student of Central Andros High School, who is passionate about cooking, is the 31st Senior High School National Young Chef.
The finalists (1st-4th place) in the national rounds in both divisions received awards.
First place winners accepted floating trophies on behalf of their schools. The winners also received cash scholarship awards from Asa H. Pritchard, medals, plaques, cheques, ribbons, scholarships and a certificate to attend Johnson and Wales University Summer Career Explorations program.
Before reaching the national/final round (phase 3), the 14 junior high school students and 17 senior high school students participated in school-based competitions (phase 1) and island/district competitions (phase 2). They were each given two hours to prepare “original” rice and flour dishes (sweet and or/savory) using Mahatma Rice and Robin Hood Flour and based on the 2023 theme “Celebrating our Jubilee: Bahamian Cuisine...our Flavor Profile, our Food Culture, our Identity”.
The students’ dishes were judged on nutritional value, preparation methods, aesthetic appeal, flavor and taste.
The Centre for the Deaf and Programme S.U.R.E. were newcomers to this year’s competition.
Also, for the first time a Beef and Pork Signature Dish Challenge sponsored by Asa H. Pritchard and U. S. Meat Export Federation, led by Liz Wunderlich and a team of chefs, was held for students during the 7th annual Bahamas Young Chef Culinary Conference.
The Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education and Technical and Vocational Training commended the Family and Consumer Science Unit, the corporate stakeholders and partners, and congratulated all of the contestants in the culinary competition and the culinary conference.
Said Minister Hanna-Martin, “As you move through life no matter what it is -- culinary arts, performing arts, science, sewing, how [you] represent yourself: I want you to ensure that you put yourself forward in the best possible light so the world can see who you are.”
She underscored the value of the first hand-advice and exposure that the students have gained from chefs who have decades of experience in first rate restaurants both nationally and internationally.
Dominique Russell, Acting Director of Education said, “Students, you have proven that you are the best of the best and are deserving of the opportunity to display your creativity, knowledge and skills in culinary arts at this Young Chef competition.
“What you have garnered from the chefs, teachers, the competition itself makes you a winner. The knowledge you have gained no one can take it from you. You will continue to expand on that.”
Raquel Turnquest, Education Officer, Family and Consumer Science Education Unit told the parents that their investment in their children will be beneficial. “You will meet the dividends eventually. Keep encouraging them to put their best foot forward,” she said.
Chief Judge Gerald Rolle, Liz Wunderlich, Chef Emmanuel Gibson and Chef Addiemae Farrington, President of the Chef Association, also participated in the ceremony.
The other finalists:
Junior high school division
2nd – Christina Lesbott, Central Eleuthera
3rd Cerell Simms – Long Island
4th – Aaliyah Cooper – D.W. Davis
Senior high school division
2nd – Donny Barr Jr. – Centre for the Deaf
3rd- Jaquell Missick – Eight Mile Rock
4th – Talea Martin – St. George’s High
Awards were also presented to the winners of the (beef and pork) U.S. Meat Export Federation Signature Dish Challenge. They are:
VandeRose Pork Junior High School Division
1st - Samuel Fortune – A.F. Adderley
2nd– Christina Lesbott – Central Eleuthera
3rd – Lael Green – Inagua All Age School
4th – Aaliyah Cooper (Creative Caribbean) – D.W. Davis
Meats by Linz Senior High School Division (Beef)
1st - Shenai Johnson – Inagua All Age School
2nd – Kendal Seymour Jr. - Arthur’s Town Comprehensive
3rd - Shekera Reid – C.C. Sweeting
4th – Shaun Darville (Creative Caribbean) – L.N. Coakley