After a brief downpour at noon on Saturday, the chefs and cooks returned to work, some using coal pots and fire pits, to prepare for the 5th annual bush event at Seja Farm on St. Croix. I entered a cook/chef cook competition.
According to Yvette Browne, co-owner of Sejah Farm, 25 participants were provided with proteins (goat, chicken, or fish) to be cooked on the farm and served to guests. The first her three chefs had cash prizes, and the coveted “bragging rights”—the people’s pick winner—she won $800.
Even before the gates opened at 1:00 p.m., the appetizing smells of barbecue, stewed and grilled meat, and vegetables in pots filled the booths.
Although the event was a competition, the chefs had fun interacting with each other and the public, and everyone clearly enjoyed the afternoon. and the use of fresh ingredients.
A Massachusetts-based non-profit organization, Foodies Without Borders’ goal is to bring sustainable agriculture and culinary arts to Kenya’s younger generations and underprivileged communities. Chef Anthony Njigva learned of the event through his connections at the University of the Virgin Islands. He said he is already looking for reasons to return to St. Croix with his program.
Crucian Galore’s booth, which makes pumpkin soup with guacamole, was staffed by a family of chefs. Mother and daughter Sybil and Shelinda Quinland ran the foodline with their 15-year-old daughter, Chalinda George, as the sous chef. Joel Fontaine, 11, and CJ Pele, his 8-year-old, were young cooks who helped prepare the food by blending a fresh mango smoothie and fried his banana his chips. On Friday, the boys won the elementary school cook-off.
Chris Booth of Salt Great Pond cooked chicken and rabbit roulade over a fire pit. He also charred local pumpkin and served the dish with homemade pickles. The chef has been attending for four years, he said, because he likes cooking “as local as possible.”
Chef Frank Robinson cooked lamb and sweet potato stew and sautéed eggplant and tomatoes.
He said he attended every event.
“This is a great community event and supports local agriculture. It gets the community eating fresh local food,” he said.
Former chef of Un Amore and other St. Croix restaurants, Frank Pugliese cooked a curried lamb stew with coconut milk and pumpkin squash.
“It’s a farmer. Using local ingredients whenever possible is my favorite,” he said.
Chef Ashley Ellis prepared jerk chicken, pumpkin soup, breadfruit and sweet potato gnocchi, and curried lamb for the crowd.
“I like interacting with the community and using local ingredients,” she said.
Other offerings include fresh sorrel, ginger beer, stinking toe, trumpet bush, vervain, lemongrass, bush tea with analgesic bush, a drink made from the baobab tree, and sea moss punch. was included.
Kids ran around the grounds and popped into the bouncy house while parents sampled the food and listened to Cool Sessions music.
On Fridays there were food and cooking demonstrations, an elementary school cook-off, a bouncy house, and games for the public.
This year’s sponsors include: Alconcent University, SAAFON, VIYA, Diageo, The Rockefeller Foundation, VI Tourism, First Bank, Sand Castles Hotel, VI Good Food Coalition, Shared Insight, WJKC, King Christian Hotel, and others. , and international organizations. .
“This year, sponsorship has gone off the chain,” Brown said.