Celebrating its 22nd Anniversary, Bahamas National Trust’s (BNT) again hosted Festival Noel, a signature fundraising event for the organization, is held at the Rand Nature Center and attracts large crowds on an annual basis.
Held on December 2, 2016, one of the featured events of the fund-raiser is the Chef Noel Competition, which several high school culinary departments participate in.
The 2016 competition winners were announced Thursday (January 12) and it saw newcomers, Pine Forest Academy, claiming first place – a title BNT representatives say was well deserved.
Pine Forest Academy young chefs wowed the crowd with their delectable dishes, pleasing every pallet with taste and each eye with their presentation.
Yesterday representatives of the BNT presented the winning team and their Chef, Coach Ray Evans, with a plague and gift in the form of kitchen utensils.
BNT’s Senior Park Warden for Grand Bahama, Ellsworth Weir noted that a major part of the annual fund-raiser is the chef competition.
“Today we are here to present the champions of our Chef Noel Competition with their award and their gift. This competition took place at our 22nd Annual Festival Noel, which is the major fund-raiser for the BNT on Grand Bahama.
“A major part of that event is the Annual Chef Noel Competition, where we have students from various schools compete to see who is the best. To see who is the top chef in the kitchen, as they work alongside some of the best restaurants on the island as well. There was a voting process and after the event, we tallied the votes and found that Pine Forest Academy came out on top.
“The reviews were great; their chef, Chef Evans worked closely with them and, obviously, he has given them a lot of good, sound training that will take them far if they want to pursue a career in the culinary arts industry,” Weir said.
“We are proud to be here today, to be able to present this gift and this plaque to them. We wish them all the best going forward.”
Based on the feedback he received from the patrons of the event, Weir said that the comments described Pine Forest Academy’s food as impeccable.
“According to them, they would have thought the food was coming from a five star hotel restaurant, based on the presentation. Everyone was talking about it, they are actually still talking about it and, obviously, we had to give kudos to Chef Ray Evans. The reviews were great and everyone enjoyed it, so hands down they won the competition.”
Lisa Wildgoose, Rand Nature Center’s office manager added, “They did indeed receive raving reviews from our guests that attended Festival Noel. The students were well equipped, well prepared to face all of the challenges, if they had any for the evening.
“Chef Evans did a wonderful job with the students. Their presentation was excellent, their mannerisms were excellent and their service was excellent. They did a wonderful job overall and a well deserving win. We would like to congratulate Pine Forest Academy on their success during Chef Noel and the Festival Noel fund-raiser for BNT.”
Speaking about the competition, Evans told this daily that despite not having much time to prepare for the event, they remained focused and committed on their ultimate goal, which was to leave the competition victorious – a feat they are proudly boasting of.
“We found out late about the competition and that we still had the opportunity to enter, so we basically only had about a week-and-a-half to prepare. But, we decided to base our theme on ‘A Fusion of Nations.’
“We took food from Germany, Brazil and India, and fused them with a Bahamian twist. Some of the things we created were the Bell Pepper with Bulgari stuffing,” Evans explained.
“We actually made about 150 Bell Pepper dishes and within an hour-and-a-half they were gone. Persons were coming back for seconds.”
Evans shared that he and the students also prepared a Black Bean and Pepper Soup, which was also a crowd pleaser.
“We also prepared a Curry Cream Chicken Soup, which was marvelous. The kids put in the work, they were in the kitchen as of 7:00 that morning. One of the things that I really liked was that my students did such an excellent job; I am proud of them, at the last minute getting everything right. They did an absolutely marvelous job.
“We want to thank the BNT for allowing us to come in. We have something extra special planned for them next year. We have actually started thinking about what our theme will be for next year,” Evans revealed.
Tenth grader Labriah Davis, a member of the winning team noted, “I had a lot of fun, meeting different people, explaining to them what we were cooking.”
She said that preparing the dishes was fun, but yet difficult. “We made Sweet Potato Chowder, Stuffed Bell Peppers, Spicy Black Bean Soup, which was our hottest (most popular) dish.”
She added that cooking is a hobby for her at the moment; however, Davis admitted that she could see it as a future career as well.
Ranisha Davis, another chef who was honored to be a part of the team added, “I had a lot of fun participating in the competition. I really enjoy cooking; sometime I do it on the regular. Preparing for the competition was long and stressful, but at least it worked out well. I am excited and very happy that we came first and that I was able to work with the people that were a part of the team.”
Estella White, Pine Forest Academy Administrator expressed how proud she was of the team.
“I am very proud of the team and I am happy that they were able to accomplish what they did, coming first. It is a plus for Pine Forest Academy, as a new school. We are proud and we will continue to do excellent things.”
Published Friday, January 13, 2017